Cheesy Bucatini Pie with Mini Meatballs.
Oh hello! I made you a pie. A pie of pasta. Can we still be friends?
Just trust me on this one.
I know you’re wondering who I am and where the pasta-hating Jessica went.
I’ll admit, I was skeptical.
Eddie was skeptical.
Max was probably skeptical but just happy I wasn’t putting something green on his high chair tray.
Something weird and wacky is happening, and it’s not only that I’ve committed to kale salad every single day of the month of December. It’s that I’ve also apparently committed to LIKING tomato sauce based dishes, things of the Italian foods variety (which, if you’ve been following along, you know that is my very least favorite cuisine) and actually wanting to make dishes like this for dinner more than once per week.
WHAAAAAT is happening.
My grandma told me once when I was pretty young (maybe around eight years old?) and coincidentally complaining about not liking spaghetti, that your taste buds can change over time. And I’ve obviously seen that happen with things like brussels sprouts and the aforementioned kale salad, but I reeeeeally never thought it was happen with tomato sauce.
Whoa whoa. Let’s take a timeout to talk about this almost burnt cheesy outside crust.
I’m swooning, doubletime.
If only because I was the one to always eat the burnt, bubbly cheese off of the Stouffer’s mac and cheese the moment it came out of the oven when I was a kid. Burning the heck out of my mouth, but it was worth it.
Please tell me you experienced this delicacy in the 80s or 90s? Dreamboat on the sea of cheese sauce.
In other news, I’m pretty sure that Eddie wants to divorce me because I can’t stop walking around the house singing the entire Pentatonix Christmas album. Except I totally suck at singing it, I can’t do any of the cool voice things they do, and better yet, I don’t even know the words so I just mosey on by him belting out the same line a few (hundred) times or I attempt to emulate their voices by making noises that can only be described as anything BUT singing.
It’s becoming a severe problem and I can’t stop.
In fact, on Friday night I was tossing and turning in bed because I had “Just For Now” spinning in my brain over and over and over again and I couldn’t get it out. The music (that I didn’t necessarily care for at first) is absolutely addictive and most songs give you a major ear worm.
Best for me.
Worst for Eddie.
He’ll get over it.
But back to pasta pie.
This sauce is based on that incredible version with crushed tomatoes by Marcella Hazan and it has… wait for it… brown butter.
Did you just roll your eyes? Am I bastardizing the tomato sauce that is delicious by itself ?In my defense, the sauce calls for a few tablespoons of butter, SO.
I just browned it first.
And if I’m really being honest, my big major huge imperative life or death question right here is HOW COULD YOU NOT. It’s basically common sense.
I’ve seen a pie like this for a few years now, namely in some of my favorite foodie magazines (this one here being inspired by food and wine), and the thought of a an actual SLICE of pasta kind of freaked me once. Even as I was mixing the ingredients and shoving bucatini into a springform pan, I was all no no no this is headed on the crazy train to nowhere.
Then, dumb old me realized that it really is just like eating a bowl of spaghetti. (Which I just spelled “SPEGHATTI” whatiswrongwithme #insertcoveredeyeemojihere)
However, I’d even argue that it’s better than eating a bowl of spaghetti since it’s held together by CHEESE. One cheesey pie of noodles and fontina and provolone and parmesan. And let’s be real: I probably love it so much since the tomato sauce ratio to pasta is quite low.
It’s definitely RICH. Couldn’t really imagine eating more than one slice, but you could probably take that up with Eddie who just ate six slices of cake in one day. Eating his emotions so he won’t yell at me for singing? Most likely.
- 1 pound bucatini pasta, cooked according to directions
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 8 ounces fontina cheese, freshly grated
- 8 ounces provolone cheese, freshly grated
- basil leaves for topping
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup romano cheese
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 sweet onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Butter the inside of a 9-inch springform pan and set it aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, pasta, parmesan, and almost all of the fontina and cheese, reserving a little bit for the top. Place it into the springform pan and cover with remaining cheese. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden and set. If you want the cheese even more bubbly, you can place it under the broiler for a minute or two. Serve with meatballs and sauce.
- In a large bowl, add the beef, egg, oil, cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Mix to combine, gently tossing a few times with your hands. Don’t overmix – it will result in tough meatballs! Form the meat into teaspoon-sized balls, 1/2-inch in diamter, or about that size. It will make about 30 meatballs at that size.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Place the meatballs in the skillet and brown on all sides, the transfer the meatballs to a bowl. Add the onions to the same skillet and cook until soft. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and italian seasoning. Reduce the heat to low and simmer.
- Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Immediately begin whisking. Stir as it bubbles, and after 2 to 3 minutes or so you should see brown bits appear on the bottom of the pan. Continue to whisk for another 30 seconds. Pour the butter into the crushed tomatoes. Cover the large skillet and cook for 15 minutes. Place the meatballs back into the sauce and cook for another 15 or 20 minutes. Serve the sauce and meatballs over the bucatini pie.
I’ll leave you with that.