Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Cheesy Mascarpone and Mozzarella meatball bake

I'm clearly in Italy mode still and have been whipping up some Tuscan dishes. The only dish we were quite glad to give a miss for a while were pizzas, but otherwise still enjoying a good pasta and bruschetta. This meatball bake ended up being so darn good, I finished almost half of it on my own. The sauce is really thick and dunking a good slice of bread into it and letting it soak for a while before savouring it, gosh, the thought is making me hungry again.

Serves 4 as a main dish
Ground beef- 500 gms
Onion-  1 small, finely chopped
Italian seasoning- 1 tbsp
Oregano- 1 tsp
Garlic powder- 1 1/2 tsp
Worcestershire sauce- 1 tsp
Pepper- to taste
Salt- to taste
Oil- 3 tbsp, or enough, to fry the meatballs

Onion- 1 large
Baby spinach- 3 cups
Chilli flakes- 1 tsp
Tomato based Pasta sauce- 1 cup
Mascarpone cheese- 100 + 100 to scatter
Garlic- 3 pods, grated
Salt- to taste
Mozzarella cheese- 100 gms, grated
Mix together the ground beef, onion, Italian seasoning, oregano, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper together in a mixing bowl. Either using your hands or a wooden spoon, but over work it or the beef turns brown. Bring together until just mixed.
Make small balls out of the mix, around the size of a small lime, and keep ready. I got 25 meatballs out of the mix.
Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the meatballs in batched, till just done. If the oil temperature is right, it would take you around 2  minutes per side for a batch of meatballs. Of course this is dependent on how big the meatballs are.
Drain on paper towels and continue frying all the meatballs.

Into the same pan, add more oil if needed, add the onions and baby spinach and cook till the spinach is wilted and all the water has evaporated.
Stir in the chilli flakes and pasta sauce. 
Spoon 100gms of the mascarpone cheese into the sauce and mix well.
Add the grated garlic and salt to taste and bring the whole sauce to a gentle boil. If you feel the sauce is too thick, add water to loosen it a bit.
Add the meatballs into the sauce and simmer for a couple of minutes and take the pot off heat.
Preheat oven to 180C and transfer the meatball mix into an oven safe casserole/baking dish.
Scatter around scoops of the remaining mascarpone cheese and grated mozzarella cheese. Try to spread it around evenly.
Place in the oven for about 20 minutes or till the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling.
Remove from the oven and keep aside for 10 minutes before dunking your crusty bread into it.

Notes: You can do the entire cooking and baking in a single pot if you use an oven safe container to do the frying, sauce and baking. I used my cast iron pan.
You can use any store bought pasta sauce or make your own and even omit the mascarpone if you dont want it to be creamy.
The bake freezes well.


Nyla said...

made this for the kids tonight! they loved it - even the spinach. i did cheat a bit to make it faster with pre-made meatballs and pre-made mascarpone sauce.