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Cavatelli with Mini Meatballs

I’m not going to lie, I have been really over cooking for the past month. I think it’s quarantine burn out. I have never prepped, cooked, and cleaned so much in my whole dang life. Almost as soon as I hit adulthood I was already knee deep in showbiz, which translates to a life mostly lived on the go. I don’t think I have ever gone 2 months without room service, let alone a week without eating out. I realize now, in retrospect, part of my love of cooking at home has been born out of my life in constant motion. Being on the road I would fantasize about being home and making meatballs; it was a cozy vision. Now that I’ve been stuck at home for 4 months, I can say that I have literally dreamt about rolling over in bed, picking up that phone, dialing 0 and saying, “I’d like to place an order for room service please,” or having a waiter or waitress say, “Can I get you another glass of wine?”  I’ve come to terms with the cold, hard facts that it’s going to be a bit more than a hot minute before someone wheels Eggs Benedict to my room. 

In my lack of inspiration for what to put in my pots and pans I have taken to taking orders at home, yesterday my hubby said, “I want cavatelli with meatballs, like the kind I would have gotten in Cleveland's Little Italy when I was a kid.” I felt, in my heart a slight tingle, dare I say desire to deliver what my love bug craved. I opened my fridge, dove into my cabinets, clipped some herbs and it just felt right, I knew I was about to deliver some 1980’s Italian American Little Italy realness.  My betrothed rated it in my top ten recipes of all time!

The cavatelli is a sturdy boat for a sauce that is light but packed with beefy tomato flavor from the simple mini-meatballs cooking in it. It's quick to prepare and the even better news is that this will leave you with about 2 cups of extra sauce, save it for the week or toss it in the freezer for a rainy day or maybe even tomorrow when I am quite possible totally over cooking again!

What Do I Need


1/4 cup olive oil

1 28 ounce can of roma tomatoes

1 28 ounce can of passata (tomato puree)

1 yellow onion (chopped)

4 cloves of garlic (minced)

2 tbspn tomato paste


8 large fresh basil leaves (chopped)

1 tspn fresh oregano (chopped) 

16 ounces cavatelli 


1 cup Pecorino Romano Cheese (grated)

2 Ibs ground beef (lean)

1 egg

Salt & Pepper

Now What 

Heat your saucepan for a minute and then add your olive oil, about 1/4 cup, add your onions and saute over medium heat for about 2 - 3 minutes or until soft, golden and fragrant, next add your garlic and saute for about 30 seconds to one minute, now add your tomato paste and mix well a minute. Next, carefully add your roma tomatoes (and the sauce from the can) as well as the passata and salt to taste, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and turn your attention to making meatballs!

In a medium bowl mix your ground beef, pecorino, egg, salt and pepper. Mix well by hand and roll into 1” meatballs, you should get about 60 of them! Once all your meatballs are rolled gently place them (via spoon) one by one into the sauce, mixing them in gently. Allow the sauce to simmer for 45 minutes. 15 minutes before the end of your ycooking time add your herbs and mix in!  

Prepare your pasta according to package directions, set a time - do not over cook!  When your pasta is done, drain it and return it to its pot, add the sauce spoonful by spoonful mixing it in. Do not over sauce it. The pasta should be wrapped in the sauce, now drowning in it!  Top with fresh grated cheese and serve!

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