Spaghetti and meatballs is a cold-weather classic and comfort food at its best. But all its ingredients - noodles, tomatoes, fresh herbs and meat - are popular in the summer, too. We lightened up the dish by transforming it into a chilled pasta salad with grilled meatballs and fresh tomato sauce.
Recipe courtesy of Cooking Channel
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Meatball and Fusilli Pasta Salad
Total:
1 hr
Prep:
10 min
Inactive:
30 min
Cook:
20 min
Yield:
6 to 8 servings
Level:
Easy
Total:
1 hr
Prep:
10 min
Inactive:
30 min
Cook:
20 min
Yield:
6 to 8 servings
Level:
Easy

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped (about 5 tomatoes)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing, oiling the grill grates and drizzling
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 small cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely minced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 large egg
  • One 2-ounce piece Pecorino Romano
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 12 ounces tricolor fusilli
  • 8 ounces ciliegini mozzarella balls, strained
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, torn

Directions

Special equipment: six 10-inch skewers

Toss the tomatoes, oil, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, crushed red pepper and half the garlic in a large bowl; let sit at room temperature.

Stir together the milk, breadcrumbs, onion, remaining garlic, oregano and egg in a large bowl; let sit for 5 minutes so the breadcrumbs absorb the milk.

Shave half the Pecorino into long, thin strips with a vegetable peeler; set aside. Finely grate the remaining Pecorino, and add to the breadcrumb mixture. Add the ground pork, and mix everything with your hands until just combined. Roll level teaspoons of the pork mixture into about 30 small meatballs, placing them on a baking sheet brushed with oil as you form them. Thread 5 meatballs onto each skewer. Freeze the skewers to firm up the meatballs (and help keep them from sticking to the grill), about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and prepare a grill or large grill pan for medium-high heat.

Add the fusilli to the boiling water, and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Strain the pasta well, add to the bowl with the tomato mixture and stir to combine; set aside.

Brush the skewers all over with oil. Lightly oil the grill grates. Grill the skewers, rotating as needed to ensure even cooking, until the meatballs are charred in spots on all sides and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the meatballs from the skewers, and add to the pasta, along with the shaved Pecorino, mozzarella and basil. Add salt if needed. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Drizzle with additional oil before serving.

Cook's Note

This pasta salad tastes great served right away or it can be made a day ahead. Just don't add the basil until you're ready to serve since the leaves wilt quickly. Ciliegini are very small balls of fresh mozzarella. If they're not available, cut a ball of fresh mozzarella into chunks.

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