Parmesan Pasta with Lemon Meatballs
ok, i know this sounds like a super weird combination, but just trust me. please? i semi-promise you won’t regret it (i mean, if you hate deliciousness or lemons or parmesan cheese you might regret it but i can’t help it if some people don’t like yummy foods). consider this a trust exercise between internet friends. and if the past few years have taught us anything, it is that you cannot trust people on the internet enough. right? right.
i heart pasta. so very, very much. we are best friends. lasagna, ravioli, fettucine, tortellini…it’s all good. actually, to be fair, i just love italian food. pizza, risotto, osso buco, even chicken cacciatore (which for the longest time i thought was pronounced “khaki-a-torey”). but as much as i love all the things italian chefs have done for us over the years, there is still room for improvement.
like pairing lemon, sage, ground turkey, and parmesan together over spaghetti noodles. fresh, cheesy, and the perfect combination of crunchy and al dente pasta. this dish is a win. i know all the cream and cheese might scare some folks off, but the lemon really cuts through it very nicely, making it taste light and fresh (i can’t really offer any help on how many calories are in this thing, but you do what you can).
and, side note: this pasta makes a great breakfast. if you’re into eating stuff like this before noon, which i definitely am. as long as it is heated up. Lane will eat pasta and pizza (and burgers and enchiladas and anything else he can find in the fridge) for breakfast completely cold. i just can’t do it. but i am all about the non-traditional breakfast. if you haven’t tried it yet, i highly recommend it and you can start with this meal.
if you’re new to cooking pasta two things: 1.) make sure the water is super salty (think ocean water) and 2.) don’t overcook the pasta- it should be al dente which means there is a bite to it. other than that, the pasta part of this dish is really easy. if you put a little EVOO in the water prior to boiling it and adding the pasta then the noodles won’t stick together as much and you can cook the pasta ahead of time and then toss it with the sauce and meatballs when they are done.
for the meatballs i highly recommend lightly frying them before baking them in the oven because it makes the outsides crispy, but if you’re not into fried foods you can definitely bake them, just leave them in the over 10-15 minutes longer than the recipe calls for. but come on now, you’re already making a dish that calls for lots of cream, cheese, and pasta, you may as well embrace the nutrition level and fry those bad boys up. just sayin.
finally, for the sauce. cream sauce can be a little tricky to make because you have to keep the cream from scalding. basically that means you cook it over medium low heat and stir it constantly (and slowly) with a whisk. it’s that easy. i know all these steps sound like a lot of work, but crank-up some 90s jams (backstreets back- alright!), pour yourself a glass of white wine, and now its a cooking party. plus the end result really is worth it- this is probably one of my new favorite pasta dishes.
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 t. lemon zest
- 1/2 c. bread crumbs
- 1/2 t. sage
- 1/4 t. cumin
- 1/2 t. paprika
- 1 t. salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 2 T. EVOO
- 1 lb. pasta, cooked and drained
- 1 c. half and half
- 1/2 c. mozzarella
- 1 c. parmesan
- lots of fresh ground pepper
- In a large bowl combine the onion and next 9 ingredients until well mixed. Set out some wax paper and form meat mixture into 12 meatballs. Heat EVOO in large skillet over medium high heat; meanwhile heat oven to 350; spray muffin tin with cooking spray. Fry meatballs on all sides about 2 minutes; place cooked meatballs into muffin tin. Once all meatballs are fried, place in oven and bake 35-40 minutes, or until cooked through.
- While meatballs are cooking put half and half with cheese in a heavy saucepan over medium low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until cheese melts and sauce slightly thickens- about 10 minutes.
- Once sauce and meatballs are done, add pasta to sauce and toss. Top with meatballs and enjoy.
let the cooking party begin!