We know it’s not easy to keep a secret, but this one is just too good. By stealthily sneaking kale into meatballs, you’ll have a way to get everyone to eat their greens. And because we really want to make it that easy, we’re serving them with some guaranteed crowd-pleasers: al dente rigatoni, a thick and hearty tomato sauce, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
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/ serving 4 people
/ serving 4 people
Meatloaf Spice Blend
Wash and dry all produce. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Peel, halve, and finely chop onion. Thinly slice garlic. Pick basil leaves from stems; discard stems. Remove stems from kale and discard; stack, then roll up leaves and thinly slice crosswise into shreds. Chop shreds into fine pieces. TIP: Use a food processor to chop kale, if you like.
Heat a large drizzle of olive oil in a large, tall-sided panover mediumhigh heat. Add onion and cook, tossing occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, tossing, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir tomatoes into pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, mix together beef, meatball spice, panko, kale, salt, and pepper (we used ½ tsp kosher salt). Shape mixture into 1½-inch balls (you should have about 12).
Carefully lower meatballs into sauce in pan. Increase heat to medium, cover, and cook 5 minutes. Uncover, carefully turn meatballs over, and continue simmering until cooked through, 5-7 minutes.
Once water is boiling, add rigatoni to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 10-12 minutes. Carefully scoop out and reserve ½ cup pasta cooking water, then drain.
If sauce seems thick, stir in a splash or two of pasta cooking water. Divide rigatoni between plates. Spoon meatballs and sauce on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan, scatter with basil leaves, and serve.