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Pastaball Marinara



For the pastaballs:

  • 250g wholewheat pasta shapes, such as penne

  • 1x 400g tin black beans

  • 50g sun-dried tomatoes in oil

  • 1 tbsp chilli powder

  • 50ml BBQ sauce

  • Olive oil

  • 1 large onion

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • Salt and black pepper

For the marinara sauce:

  • 1 large onion

  • 3 garlic cloves

  • Olive oil

  • 260ml red wine

  • 1 ½ tbsp dried oregano

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 75g tomato puree

  • 75ml water

  • 900g tomatoes

  • 15g fresh basil leaves

  • ½ tsp sugar

  • Salt and black pepper to taste

To garnish:

  • A few small fresh basil leaves


  • Preheat oven to 180C

  • Line a baking tray

  • Large frying pan with a lid on a medium heat

  • Kettle boiled

  • Large saucepan

  • Food processor

  • Frying pan


To make the sauce, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Add some oil to the large frying pan and cook the onions for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, until the smell of garlic fills the room. Add the red wine and stir, then cook for a further 5 minutes until the wine is bubbling and starting to thicken. Add the oregano and bay leaf and stir. Add the tomato puree and water and stir again.

Finely chop the tomatoes and scrape them into the pan with all the juices. Tear the basil leaves into the pan and stir everything together. Add the sugar and some salt and pepper to taste. Put the lid on the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and leave to simmer for 15-25 minutes, stirring occasionally (the longer you leave it, the richer the sauce). Uncover and simmer for a further 10 minutes. When it’s ready the sauce should be rich, luscious and thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

While the sauce is simmering, pour the boiling water into the large saucepan and add a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente, following the instructions on the packet. Drain and rinse the pasta under cold water for 30 seconds to cool it to room temperature.

Tip the cold, cooked pasta into the food processor. Drain the black beans and the sun-dried tomatoes and add them to the food processor along with the chilli powder, sun-dried tomatoes and BBQ sauce. Blend to a thick paste, then pour the mixture into a large bowl.

Place another frying pan on a medium heat and add a little oil. Peel and finely chop the remaining onion and 2 garlic cloves. Add the onion to the hot pan and cook for around 15 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and stir it around until you’ve released the aroma (a minute or so). Tip the onions and garlic into a bowl with the pasta and mix everything together. Add a little salt and pepper to taste.

Wet your hands to stop the mixture sticking.  Pull small pieces of the mixture out of the bowl and shape them into 3cm balls.  Arrange the balls on a lined baking tray.

Add a little olive oil to the pan you used to cook the onions and put it on a medium high heat.  When the pan is nice and hot, add the balls in batches, turning them over regularly until they brown all over, about 3 - 5 minutes.  Transfer the browned pastaballs to the lined baking tray and, once all the batches are done, put the tray in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. 

To serve, put a couple of large spoonfuls of the sauce into serving bowls and top each with 4 pastaballs.  Garnish with a few torn basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.

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