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Tagliarini with Almond-Arugula Pesto and Meatballs

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6

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  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 medium red onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed lavender
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 6-ounce bunch of arugula
  • 1/2 cup unsalted roasted almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 1/4 pounds fresh tagliarini


  1. In a bowl, mix the pork and lamb with the onion, wine, parsley, zest, thyme, fennel, lavender and red pepper. Add one-third of the garlic, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Roll the mixture into 1-inch meatballs.
  2. In a very large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the meatballs and cook over moderately high heat, turning frequently, until browned, 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook for 5 minutes longer, or until no trace of pink remains. Transfer to a plate.
  3. In a food processor, puree the arugula with the almonds, 1/2 cup of Parmesan and the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil and garlic. Scrape the pesto into a bowl; season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta; transfer it to bowl. Toss the pasta with the pesto and 1/2 cup of the cooking water; add more water if the sauce is dry. Serve with the meatballs and more Parmesan and olive oil.

Suggested Pairing

This tagliarini with pork and lamb meatballs can stand up to a big wine like a California Cabernet with plum and chocolate notes.

Contributed By Photo © Frances Janisch Published October 2004

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