Baked penne with fennel meatballs

Baked penne with fennel meatballs




  • 1 cup (100g) wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 600g minced beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup (40g) parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 2 tbsp sage, chopped
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 red onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 500g penne
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves
  • 1 cup (80g) parmesan, freshly shaved


Preheat oven to 200°C or 180°C fan.

To make the meatballs; combine all ingredients in a bowl and season to taste. Wet your hands and roll the meat mixture into small balls (about half the size of a golf ball works for me). Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and brown the meatballs on all sides, in batches.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium and cook onions until soft and translucent. Tip in the canned tomatoes, lower heat and cook for 15 mins. Season to taste.

Cook penne according to packet instructions. Drain, keeping 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and tip back into the saucepan. Carefully stir through the meatballs, cheeses and basil. Add the reserved pasta cooking liquid to thin the dish out and then tip into a large (8-cup capacity) baking dish.

Sprinkle with the parmesan and cook for 20 mins or until bubbly and golden.


  •  If you don’t think your kids will like the fennel then either leave it out or swap for extra herbs.
  • If you’d like this dish to be extra ‘cheesy’, then dot some bocconcini cheese on the top before baking.
  • This recipe was created by Sophie Hansen


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