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Caprese Shells with Mini Meatballs

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  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated romano cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs


  • 1 1/2 pounds whole wheat pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 pint grape tomatos, halved or quartered
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped + more for topping
  • 1 cup ciliegine, mini fresh mozzarella balls
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare water for pasta and bring to a boil. Spray a large baking dish with nonstick spray.
  • In a large bowl, add ground beef, egg, oil, cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, basil and parsley. Mix to combine, gently tossing a few times with your hands. Don’t overmix – it will result in tough meatballs! Using a teaspoon measuring spoon, roll mixture into small meatballs, about the diameter of a nickel or so. Place in the baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.
  • While meatballs are baking, begin to boil pasta. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil and garlic, then stir in diced tomatoes, chopped basil and fresh grape tomatoes. Before draining pasta, reserve 1/3 cup of the water and pour into the skillet. Add the pasta into the skillet, then add the meatballs once finished. Turn off the heat and add the mozzarella. Top with some freshly grated cheese and more basil.

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