Baked Rigatoni With Meatballs



  1. 3 garlic cloves
  2. 1 medium bunch fresh basil
  3. 3 lb. fresh plum or medium tomatoes or 1 (28 oz.) can
  4. salt and pepper
  5. 3/4 lb. tubular pasta (rigatoni, penne, macaroni)
  6. 3 to 5 sprigs flat leaf or curly parsley
  7. 1 lb. lean ground beef
  8. 1 c. fresh grated Parmesan
  9. juice of 1/2 lemon
  10. 1 egg
  11. 3 Tbsp. olive oil


  1. Separate the garlic cloves from the bulb.
  2. Peel and finely chop the garlic.
  3. Chop the basil leaves.
  4. Cut the cores from fresh tomatoes and score an "x" on the base of each.
  5. Immerse them, a few at a time, in a saucepan of boiling water until skins start to split, 8 to 15 seconds.
  6. Transfer the tomatoes to a bowl of cold water.
  7. When cold, peel off the skins.
  8. Cut tomatoes crosswise in half; squeeze out the seeds, then coarsely chop each half.
  9. If using canned tomatoes, chop them, reserving their juice.
  10. Put the tomatoes with any juice, in the frying pan and add 2/3 of the garlic, the basil and a pinch of salt.
  11. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 10 to 12 minutes; there should be some liquid left in the pan.
  12. Transfer the sauce to a food processor and puree.
  13. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
  14. Wipe the frying pan clean.
  15. Strip the parsley leaves from the stems and chop.
  16. Put the beef, 1/4 of the Parmesan, chopped parsley leaves, remaining garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  17. Add the egg.
  18. Mix ingredients in the bowl with your hands until they are thoroughly combined.
  19. Fry a small amount of the mixture to test for seasoning; adjust if necessary.
  20. Heat remaining oil in frying pan.
  21. Add the meat after shaping into meatballs about 3/4 inch in diameter.
  22. Make sure the pan is not overcrowded.
  23. Fry the meatballs briskly, until brown on outside and still pink inside, 2 to 4 minutes.
  24. Transfer to large plate and set aside.