Pasta is an easy dinner choice for families to make. There are many varieties of pasta, sauces, and recipes to put them all together. This week we are taking a look at a variation on the classic pasta and meatballs. This recipe takes very minor steps to change a basic pasta dish into something exciting and different.


  • 1/2lb ground beef
  • 6oz of rigatoni
  • 14oz marinara Sauce
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cooking oil


  1. Begin by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, ½ tsp of salt, ½ tsp of pepper, and some red pepper flakes if desired.
  3. Mix together and then form into four 3-inch round balls. 
  4. Squish the balls flat and place a small amount of mozzarella cheese in the center of each. You should use about half of the mozzarella. Fold the meat around the cheese to gently shape and seal them back into balls.
  5. Place the balls on an oiled baking sheet and cook them in the oven for 20 minutes. When they are done, remove them from the oven and set the oven to broil.
  6. While the meatballs are baking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta to the water and stir occasionally. Let the pasta cook for about 10 minutes. You want the pasta to be slightly undercooked and to finish cooking in the later steps (TASTE IT).
  7. Remove ½ a cup of pasta water and set it aside.
  8. Strain the pasta and set it aside.
  9. When both the meatballs and pasta are done, start the sauce by adding the marinara to an oven-proof pan. Begin heating the sauce on a stovetop set to medium heat.
  10. Add 1 tsp of sugar, reserve pasta water, 2 tbs of butter, and more red pepper flakes if desired.
  11. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken.
  12. Stir in cooked pasta and scatter the cooked meatballs around the pan.
  13. Cover the entire dish with ½ cup of parmesan, the remaining mozzarella, and the ¼ cup of breadcrumbs.
  14. Place the pan directly under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes.
  15. Remove, serve, and enjoy!

This recipe is great because it emphasizes some of the important steps to cooking a good pasta dish. First, tasting everything through the cooking process is the best way to make sure everything is being done correctly. Judging pasta doneness based on time is very difficult. It is much easier and more accurate to just taste it. The second important step when cooking pasta is adding pasta water to the sauce. Pasta water is the stuff where dreams come from and you should add some into every pasta sauce you make. 

After trying this recipe I am still on the fence about stuffing meatballs. A lot of the cheese that filled the meatballs leaked out during the cooking process. I am also not sure why stuffing the meatballs is necessary when we are also covering the entire dish with cheese at the end. If I was going to try stuffing the meatballs again, I would include a vegetable or herb with the cheese. Spinach is the first that comes to mind but also basil or artichoke could work.

If you are looking for new healthy recipes to add to your current lifestyle, make an appointment for your free nutrition consultation at Rush-Henrietta Family Chiropractic. Our office is conveniently placed in Rochester, NY and our nutritionist is always looking to help people try new and exciting meals that are customized for their specific nutritional goals.