Monday, 25 April 2011

Meatball Pasta Bake

Well it's been a while, but the madness of work has settled down and I've actually found time to update the blog.  As you know from previous blog posts, about a month and a half ago I started on Weight Watchers, and very successful it has been too.  To date I am one pound shy of having lost a stone and have lost 5% of my body weight...go me!

The weight loss success has been in part, down to a couple of weight watchers cookbooks that I have.  My mum bought me "Weight Watchers Book of Recipes" and then I bought the "Weight Watchers Seriously Satisfying" cookbook.  This meatball pasta bake recipe comes from the Seriously Satisfying book.  I was quite pleased and surprised to find that this recipe only had 10 ProPoints per serving - normally pasta dishes are quite high especially if they have beef in them!  

I often find that living with someone who isn't on a diet can be quite hard - sometimes you see a recipe that looks tasty but you know that the other person wont eat it (usually because it lacks meat..eat a vegetarian dish you say..never!), so you either end up making two meals or cooking something else entirely.  I don't have any children but I can imagine it's the same difficulty, so this dish is great because the whole family can enjoy it.

The recipe below serves 4 and you will need:
  • 400g (or 14oz) of extra lean beef mince
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • calorie controlled cooking spray
  • 175g (or 6oz) dried penne pasta
  • 2 x 400g tins of tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons tomato ketchup
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 125g pack light mozzarella, drained and torn into chunks
  • Salt and Pepper
In a large bowl mix together the mince, some of the onion, parsley, basil and a little bit of the garlic.  Add some seasoning and then shape into walnut sized balls.  You should get around 16 balls, depending on how big or small you make them.



Spray a non stick frying pan with the cooking spray and heat until hot.  Add the meatballs and cook for 7 to 8 minutes until browned all over.  Don't worry if they aren't cooked all the way through as they will continue to cook when they are in the oven.  Once sealed, remove from the pan and set to one side.

Bring a pan of water up to boil and add your pasta, cooking as per the instructions.  Meanwhile, in the same pan you used to sear the meatballs, add the rest of the onion and fry gently for a couple of minutes.  Add the chopped tomatoes, ketchup, balsamic vinegar and the rest of the garlic. Season with a little salt and pepper and leave to cook for a few minutes until the flavours have chance to combine a little.
Once your pasta has cooked, drain it and add it to the sauce.  Add the meatballs into the frying pan and stir it together - I found this the easiest way to do it rather than trying to mix it all in the ovenproof dish as it usually goes all over the place.  Transfer the sauce/meatball/pasta mix from the frying pan into the ovenproof dish.  Top the mixture with the torn mozzarella cheese and bake in the oven at 190 degrees/170 fan oven/gas mark 5 for 25 minutes until the cheese is bubbling.


Serve with some seasonal salad leaves

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