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A classic Italian dish gets a gourmet makeover with fresh bucatini pasta and meatballs in a rich Pomodoro sauce. Thicker pasta noodles and huge meatballs make this dinner a show stopper.
About a year or so ago, I had a weekend that was off-the-charts super busy. I still have it written in my calendar if you need evidence.
I was going all day and had to attend two baby showers… on opposite sides of town… with a toddler. And the dish I am sharing with you now is how I made it through.
One of the baby showers was hosted at an Italian restaurant and when I arrived, it was pretty much over. The woman hosting the shower told me to order lunch and it was no big deal. I quickly glanced over the menu and picked the simplest thing that my toddler would share with me.
Great, spaghetti and meatballs. But I was starving and he was two and I wasn’t paying so it was a win-win-win.
You guys. This was the most amazing bowl of spaghetti and meatballs I had ever tasted in my life. I can’t even explain.
Well, I mean I can, here’s my take on this unforgettable lunch!
What is Bucatini Pasta
Bucatini pasta is a smaller tube pasta from Italy. It’s shaped much like spaghetti but it’s thicker because of the hole.
My husband is not a huge fan of spaghetti pasta so I finally introduced him to this and he loves it.
How Do They Get The Hole In Bucatini
Bucatini is made using the same type of pasta dough as any type of pasta. However, there is a special die that is used with a pasta extruder to get that narrow hole all the way down the middle of the noodle.
Check out this homemade pasta post for all of my recommended tools, as well as my fresh pasta recipe.
How to Cook Bucatini
Like any other fresh pasta, bucatini is done within 3-5 minutes of being in boiling water. However, you can feel free to buy dried bucatini and it will be done within 7-9 minutes.
How to Put This Dish Together
All of these pieces are fantastic on their own but when they come together, you’ll be a fan of my take on this memorable dish.
With thick bucatini noodles and a delicious Pomodoro (tomato sauce), I really felt like the meatballs had to be substantial.
Go big or go home right.
I like to mix my meatball meats instead of just going with one. I typically like going with a half and half mix of beef and pork just for really great flavor. You can also feel free to grind up some pancetta or guanciale into the mix for an insane Italian flavor.
I also like to keep my seasonings pretty simple with meatballs in these types of situations. I stuck with the traditional Italian herbs to season my meatballs, as well as onion and garlic powder.
Typically, I shape my meatballs with a cookie scoop but with these, I went with a good-sized ice cream scoop. In order to make sure that they were cooked thoroughly, I just inserted a thermometer and waited for them to come up to 160 degrees.
Making My Pomodoro Sauce
The one thing that made that spaghetti and meatball dish so memorable was the sauce. I had never tasted such a rich tomato sauce before.
After playing around with my own homemade marinara sauce, I realized that there had to be a reduction of something sweet in this sauce to make it have that rich and bold flavor. Enter balsamic vinegar.
Alongside the balsamic vinegar, it’s also crucial to use the best canned tomatoes to make an incredible Pomodoro sauce. My choice was Hunt’s San Marzano-Style Tomatoes.
San Marzano Style Tomatoes have the perfect meaty texture that is a must when making a tomato sauce. They also lend maximum flavor to the sauce because they contain a thicker juice. Just like my quick homemade marinara sauce, this Pomodoro-style sauce is quick to make because the tomatoes already pack a ton of flavor! That is a huge plus for me.
I also love that Hunt’s San Marzano Style is an all-natural product that uses simple ingredients to make the best recipes. They also steam peel their tomatoes so you know you won’t find any foreign chemicals in your food.
Plus Hunt’s can be conveniently found in Walmart which makes putting this recipe together a lot easier.
I start off making my sauce like any other way that I do, sauteeing shallots and garlic together. I also love to add a little heat in the form of some chile flakes. Just to give it a kick.
Then I add the balsamic vinegar and allow it to reduce for about 5 minutes over high heat. In order to get this rich sauce, the balsamic vinegar flavor has to concentrate.
Then it’s time for the star to shine! Adding the San Marzano Style tomatoes and allow them to reduce as well to maximize the flavor. This combined with adding dried herbs is where a nice Italian sauce comes from.
At the end, I always like to add a bunch of fresh basil before blending the sauce to give lightness to it!
Garnishing Fresh Bucatini Pasta with Meatballs and Pomodoro Sauce
I liked to keep the garnishing on this dish simple: a little sprinkling of minced parsley, some big pieces of basil, and a generous shaving of some fresh parmesan.
There you have it! I hope that you give this gourmet twist on a classic Italian dish a try. And if you have never tried bucatini pasta before, give it a try; it just might become your new favorite pasta! Tell me about your thoughts on this recipe down below in the comments, along with a rating!
If you like making homemade pasta, you might like these other tutorials:
Here are some other delicious fresh pasta recipes you might enjoy:
- Whole Wheat Orchiette Pasta with Butternut Squash
- Lazy Man’s Lasagna
- Gnocchi with Roasted Romesco and Swiss Chard
- Fried Mac and Cheese Balls with Bacon Jam
Look here for more inspiring pasta recipes:
- 1 pound fresh bucatini pasta
- 12.5 ounces ground pork
- 8 ounces ground beef
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 7 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon red chile flake
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 28 ounce can Hunt’s San Marzano Style Tomatoes
- ½ ounce fresh basil
- To taste salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients together for meatballs. Mix until well combined. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Using an ice cream scoop, scoop meatballs onto a prepared sheet pan. Roll them to compact them into balls. Place in oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Remove from oven when meatballs have finished.
- In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallots and sweat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add chile flake and toast for about 2 minutes.
- Add balsamic vinegar and allow to reduce for about 5 minutes to intensify the flavor. Next, add tomatoes and dried herbs to the pan. Reduce heat and allow tomatoes to reduce their juices for about 20 minutes. Once the sauce has thickened, add fresh basil and blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and add salt. Add bucatini pasta to water and boil for 3-5 minutes (if fresh) or 7-9 minutes (if dried) or until al dente. Drain and toss in Pomodoro sauce, along with meatballs. Garnish with minced parsley, basil leaves, and parmesan.
If you want to add a bit of lightness to the meatballs, add 1/2 cup breadcrumbs that have been soaked in milk to the meatball mix and combine well.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per ServingCalories 749 Total Fat 33g Saturated Fat 11g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 18g Cholesterol 134mg Sodium 479mg Carbohydrates 62g Net Carbohydrates 0g Fiber 6g Sugar 11g Sugar Alcohols 0g Protein 49g