This week’s recipe comes from my daughter-in-law who is a wonderful, inventive, cook who uses fresh, healthy, and nutritious ingredients in everything she makes. She was putting this dish together one morning a few months back as we were saying our good-byes, and it smelled heavenly. On another visit, I copied the recipe from one of her (and my son’s) favorite cook books, Italian Country Cooking by Loukie Werle.
Last weekend, the time came to concoct a dairy-free version of the original recipe. It was delicious! Below is the result of the weekend’s experiment. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Dairy-Free Penne with Meatballs in the Oven
1 pound short dried pasta, such as penne or casareccia
16 ounces of Tofuttie’s Better than Ricotta Cheese
grated paremesan on table for those who want to sprinkle it on top
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 pound pancetta or bacon, coarsely chopped
2–14 oz. cans Italian tomatoes, chopped with juice
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 thick slice Italian-type bread, crusts removed
1/3 cup almond, rice, or soy milk
1 pound minced veal (Can also use ground beef)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Make the meatballs first: soak the bread in the milk until the almond milk has been absorbed. Squeeze the bread dry, crumble into a bowl, together with the veal, garlic, egg, and parsley. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. Roll into small balls with wet hands. Heat a frying pan over high heat, add oil and when hot, add the balls and brown them on all sides, turning them over carefully so they brown evenly. Set aside.
Combine the oil, garlic, and pancetta/bacon in a frying pan and cook over moderately low heat until the fat runs, about 5 minutes. Drain the fat. Add tomatoes and parsley, bring to a boil, then simmer over moderate heat until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.
Cook the penne in plenty of boiling salted water until nearly al dente. Drain, reserving a small measuring cup of the cooking water. Combine the pasta in a large bowl with the tomato sauce, the meatballs and ricotta. Add enough of the cooking liquid to keep moist.
Transfer to a baking dish and bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot.