Roasted Red Pepper Pasta with Meatballs

Another delight! This has become my favorite pasta dish and I love me some cream sauce! Not only is it that good, it is super easy! Having 3 kids (and 2 under 2) means I have to be quick, especially when Daddy works late. I also need meals that I can feed two of those kids. I never force my kids to eat exactly what we do, but I make it kid friendly if I can. My kids love meat balls. They do not like pasta. I repeat, my children, do not, like Pasta!? How are they my children? Single me used to dine on pasta and cheese heated up in the microwave the week right before pay day. So, they eat the meatballs and we eat the whole dish.

If you have allergies to dairy or gluten this one is easy to sub. There are some great gluten free pastas out there made by the name brands now. None of that mushy brown rice stuff that literally melted in water that I used to have to eat. The only other place you will find gluten is in the meatballs if you use pre-made. If you make your own, and sub out the pasta the rest is Gf. To make this dish dairy free don’t add cheese. The picture above is my husband’s bowl. I eat it without the pretty shreds of parm and it is just as good. In fact, I cannot tell you how the parm makes it taste since I’ve never had it on this dish. If you have any other allergy needs send me a message or comment below and I will be happy to help you out, with any of my recipes. We’ve been through all of them at some point in my family, even the non-common ones.

To get started with this simple meal you want to boil your pasta water. Just don’t watch it. Sorry, Mom humor, I don’t get out much without kiddos. In the water you will want to add a splash of olive oil and about 1-2 Tablespoons of Kosher salt. Kosher salt comes in a box. It has larger crystals so you can add less and get the same results. But wait, why would I add that much salt? Isn’t salt bad for you? No, not only is salt (sodium and chlorine) essential for brain function, it gives the pasta and pasta water more flavor. We may use the pasta water later so we want the flavor.

When the water boils add the pasta, I use Rigatoni here. Since we are going to be adding the pasta into the sauce follow the directions on the box for Al Dente but subtract 2 minutes. Your pasta will be Molta Al Dente, slightly undercooked, but will finish cooking at the end. Always boil pasta that will be heated later in the recipe to Molta Al Dente. This ensures that the pasta will be Al Dente by the time you eat it. Al Dente pasta has a lower glycemic index so it’s easier on your blood sugar. Drain cooked pasta and set again. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water for later use.

While the water is coming to a boil, get your meatballs ready. Cheater alert! I use Publix pre-made meatballs in the meat section. I use two packs, we love these things, or about 2 dozen. You can use frozen or make your own. One day, I will have time to make my own, I have a good recipe I’ll include later, but pre-made is just a good for now. Again, the Publix meatballs contain gluten.

In an oven safe sauté pan, I sauté the meatballs until they are nice and brown on all sides. Then, I put the pan into a preheated oven and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until meatballs reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. E. Colin is killed at 155 degrees so you can technically take them out then, they will continue to cook once they are out.

Once the meatballs are in the oven, start the sauce. You will need two 16 oz jars of roasted red peppers, drained of the extra oil, about 4-5 large fresh basil leaves, 4 gloves of garlic to start. Using a food processor or blender (both will work for this) add the first three ingredients and blend until smooth. You cannot over blend it.

Next, add 1 tsp onion powder, about 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and 1 TB olive oil and blend again. Add more salt or pepper if needed. Done.

Add sauce to cooked meatballs. I like to remove the meatballs from the pan and wipe it down with a paper towel to get the extra grease and fat out. Then, I add both the sauce and the meatballs back in and simmer on medium-low for 2-3 minutes.

Add the pasta to the sauce and stir to cook all of the noodles. Once coated, add a splash of reserved pasta water and stir again. Keep adding splashes until the pasta is shiny and the sauce is slightly thinned.

To garnish, put a few small chopped basil leaves and shaved parmesan cheese. Such an easy, elegant dish that’s not your typical tomato pasta sauce. We never have any left overs!

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta with Meatballs

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A quick pasta dish with bold favors.


  • 2 packs Publix prepared meatballs or 2 dozen frozen meatballs
  • 2 16 oz jars Roasted Red Peppers drained
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 5 fresh basil leaves+ 2-3 leaves chopped
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • salt ans pepper
  • 1 lb box Rigatoni
  • Kosher salt
  • olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large pot bring 6 cups of water to a rolling boil. Add 2 Tablespoons olive oil and 1-2 Tablespoons of Kosher salt.
  2. While waiting for water to boil heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to a large deep oven safe sauce pan on medium-high heat. Add meatballs and shear all sides, 3-5 minutes. Place pan with meatballs into oven and cook for another 15 minutes or until meatballs reach 160 degrees.
  3. Once meatballs are in the oven add thw pasta and boil about 10 minutes or 2 minutes less than the box states for Al Dente. Drain and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
  4. In a blender or food processor add drained roasted red peppers, garlic, and basil leaves. Blend until smooth, add salt and pepper to taste, onion powder, paprika and about 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Blend again.
  5. Once meatball have finished cooking remove from oven. Use a paper towel to remove most of fat from pan. Add sauce to pan and coat meatballs. Cook on low for 2 minutes to heat sauce.
  6. Remove from heat. Add pasta to sauce mixture and stir to coat pasta. Add 1 Tablespoon of pasta water at a time until pasta is coated with sauce and shiny (about 2-3 Tablespoons).
  7. Serve immediately with shaved parmesan and chopped basil leaves.

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