This recipe excited me because I’ve wanted to make it for a while. It also involves pasta, so nothing is better than that. Initially, I conceptualized it being with tortellini, but good fresh filled tortellini is difficult to come by in South Africa, so ravioli – a much more common variant it is. I’ve combined fabulous things to make this dish. Spinach and ricotta ravioli, a homemade Italian tomato sauce, meatballs and buffalo mozzarella. These are all cooked separately and then brought together in a large skillet like a marriage made in heaven and baked. I also added some Parmesan because obvs.
We are just waving goodbye to winter here in the Southern Hemisphere so that also means saying cheerio to all the rich comforting food. It’s definitely time to make way for lighter and healthier summer-inspired dishes. I’m needing to shed a few kilograms in preparation for big food and travel adventure to Bangkok and Vietnam next month. I’ve plotted and planned this for a while and yesterday I booked my ticket so it all feels quite real. Vietnam is SO on my food bucket list to visit and I feel dizzy with excitement. I’m also planning on flooding these pages with all my images and travel stories, as well as recipes, inspired by my time in Asia
So I relished and enjoyed this delicious ravioli and meatball bake like it was my final meal. I’m waving goodbye to my most beloved pasta for a while (well as much as I possibly can). I’ve used a good quality shop-bought fresh pasta ravioli as this is more convenient, but you can, of course, make your own.
I’ve used 250gms as this is the quantity it is sold in, but I think around 350 or 400gms would be better in terms of getting the pasta/ meatball to sauce ratio spot on. You can of course use any short noodle if you can’t get hold of a filled pasta pocket.
Recipe – serves 2 – 4 depending on appetite size and level of greedPrint
meatball and spinach ravioli bake
250gms – 400gms spinach and ricotta filled ravioli (shop-bought)
150g (net weight) ball of buffalo mozzarella (fior di latte)
Parmesan to grate over and serve – as much as you like
3 – 4Tbsp olive oil to fry the meatballs
Fresh basil leaves as garnish (optional)
1 small red onion or half a large, finely chopped
3T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tins of peeled tomatoes
¼ cup dry white wine (or 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar and ¼ cup water)
1 small stock cube, crumbled (chicken or vegetable)
a good pinch of dried chilli flakes (or two)
6–8 basil leaves, chopped
Splash or Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
500g free-range lean beef mince
60g dried breadcrumbs
10g parsley, finely chopped (about 2 ½ tablespoons after chopped)
2tsp dried oregano
salt & pepper (a good few pinches)
2Tbsp tomato paste
Heat a non-stick frying pan and add the olive oil.
Fry the onions over low heat until softened. Add the garlic and briefly cook. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and then add the tomatoes, stock cube, chilli and basil and cook until the sauce has thickened. Add a splash of water if it gets too thick. I normally cook this for around 25 minutes and while the oven is heating up.
Preheat the oven to 180c / 350 F
While the sauce is on the go, mix all the meatball ingredients (mince, garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper and tomato paste) together – hands are best for this job, and roll into small to medium-sized meatballs.
Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the meatballs until they turn brown on all sides. They may still be a bit raw in the middle but this is fine.
Bring a large pot of salty water to the boil and cook the ravioli for 3 minutes until just below al dente. Drian and set aside.
When all of the above are done combine the meatballs and ravioli in the ovenproof skillet with the tomato sauce. Tear the ball of mozzarella into small shreds and scatter over the surface. Grate over some Parmesan cheese and bake for 20 minutes.
Keywords: meatballs, spinach ravioli, bake, cheese
A few of my other favourite pasta dishes: