Meat balls and beans pasta bake

Portions:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

250 grams of lean minced meat of any kind; I have used chicken

1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed, half for the meat balls and the rest saved for later

1 tsp of onion powder

1/2 tsp of salt for the meat balls and more to taste for the sauce

1/4 tsp of garlic powder

1/3 cup of bread crumbs

1 tsp of olive oil to brown the meat balls and another 2 tbsp for the sauce

250 grams of ripe tomatoes, quarteredBeans and meat balls pasta bake (umami)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1-2 dried or fresh chilies

100 grams of mild onions, diced

1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp of fish sauce

2-3 basil leaves, chopped to cook in the sauce + a few for garnish

1/4 tsp of sugar

1/2 cup Passata

300 grams of pasta; chunkier shapes are the best for this recipe

Salt and pepper  to taste

10-15 grams of Parmesan cheese to stir into the sauce and more for grating on top

1 ball of Mozzarella cheese, sliced thin

Instructions:

Start with microwaving the beans with 2-3 tbsp of water for about 5-6 minutes in a loosely covered bowl.

Once it is cool enough to handle, set aside half and press the rest with your hands or a masher to break them down roughly

Throw in the meat, bread crumbs, onion powder, garlic powder and salt into the beans and mix until combined well.

Meanwhile place a pan on high and heat about 1 tsp of oil.

Divide the mixture into 16 balls,  and fry until browned on all sides and set aside. Do not crowd the pan , brown them in batches if you need to.

In the same pan, add 2 more tbsp of oil and once hot, add the onions and a pinch of salt and reduce the heat to medium

Let it cook stirring every few minutes until soft and translucent

Meanwhile, blend the tomatoes, garlic and chilies into a paste and add it in the pan.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, chopped basil leaves and the fish sauce and cook it slow with the lid on stirring every few minutes until almost dry

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 c.

Now stir in the Passata and the sugar and cook the sauce slow on medium -low heat to ensure that the flavour deepens and the natural sweetness comes through

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water for a minute less than mentioned on the package

Reserve 1/2 cup of starchy water, drain and set aside

Once the sauce is almost dry, stir in the starchy water and grated Parmesan cheese, add salt and pepper to taste (be careful with salt because quite a few salty ingredients have been added earlier), throw in the meatballs and simmer for a couple of minutes.

In a baking dish, add the pasta, meat balls (scatter the meatballs evenly) and sauce and a sprinkle of beans in layers finishing with the sauce on top.

Add the slices of Mozzarella in a single layer, grate more Parmesan on top and bake for 18-20 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling on the sides.

Sprinkle chopped basil on top, serve with a fresh, green salad and enjoy.

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