Mini-sized meatballs in a zesty, vibrant red pepper sauce with cannellini beans and whole-grain penne pasta. Because sometimes even I, pasta lover that I am, get tired of traditional red sauce. This is a nice variation from the norm. And every bit as comforting!
The spiciness comes from red pepper flakes and the bright color from fire-roasted red bell peppers that are pureed and then mixed with half & half to form the sauce. The rich sauce has a pop of heat that works wonders with the red peppers. And the tender, perfectly seasoned, almost bite-sized meatballs? You can’t go wrong. Even eating them straight from the pan sans the sauce.
In the white beans you find a unique and unexpected addition. Mild in flavor, they add a heartiness that is highlighted by the sauce. The idea of a vegetarian version without the meatballs is exciting! The flavor combination really works. White beans and red peppers were meant for each other. I’m convinced of it.
Mini-sized meatballs in a zesty, vibrant red pepper sauce with cannellini beans and penne pasta
- In a large mixing bowl combine all of the meatball ingredients using a fork until well mixed. Roll into 1-inch sized meatballs (1 rounded tablespoon for each) and set on a platter.
- Make the sauce: In a large, deep-sided skillet saute onion in a few tablespoons oil until translucent, add garlic; saute until fragrant. Remove to a food processor or blender; puree with peppers, dried thyme, salt, pepper and red pepper. Set aside.
- Heat the same skillet to medium heat and lightly grease. Pan fry the meatballs in two batches until browned on all sides and cooked through the middle. Remove to paper towels to drain.
- Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions in plenty of salted water.
- Meanwhile allow skillet to cool down and drain grease, if pan is burnt on bottom use a new one, if not add the pureed peppers and beans, cook on medium heat very slowly stirring in half & half a few tablespoons at a time. When all the half & half is mixed in well stir in 1/4 cup of water from the pasta. Bring sauce to a simmer and add meatballs. Simmer five minutes. Add fresh thyme or basil.
- Serve over penne with plenty of Parmesan cheese and extra red pepper flakes.
Inspired by Raina of The Garden of Yum