Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart 
Hands-on Time
25 Mins
Total Time
25 Mins
Serves 4 (serving size: about 1 cup pasta mixture, 4 meatballs, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese)

Fresh pasta takes only 2 to 3 minutes to cook. Bring your pot of water to a boil early, and drop the pasta in just before the meatballs are finished so that everything is done at the same time. Ricotta cheese makes the meatballs light and tender and not too dense; they're a bit too fragile to toss with the pasta, so they're scooped out of the sauce and then placed on top at the end. If you can't find fresh linguine, use fresh fettuccine.

How to Make It

Step 1

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain and keep pasta warm.

Step 2

While water for pasta comes to a boil, combine 2 tablespoons pecorino Romano, panko, and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a medium bowl. Shape mixture into 16 (1-inch) meatballs. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add meatballs to pan; cook 6 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add marinara; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes or until meatballs are done. Remove pan from heat; remove meatballs from pan with a slotted spoon. Add pasta to pan; toss to coat. Top with meatballs and remaining 2 tablespoons pecorino Romano. Garnish with basil, if desired.

Ratings & Reviews

rmiller2's Review

June 15, 2014
I thought these meatballs were good overall. Unlike other reviewers, I thought they were flavorful for a rather simple recipe with few ingredients. Of course, if you enjoy other spices and ingredients in your meatballs, you could definitely add them. They were definitely salty enough due to the saltiness of the pecorino Romano cheese. I also used whole milk ricotta from the farm stand since that's what I had on hand. I also doubled the recipe and used ground turkey instead of sirloin. Although I was able to shape the meatballs, mine also fell apart while I was trying to brown them in the skillet. I thought this could have been because my skillet is old and things are sticking to it more so, but glad to hear other reviewers had trouble with this. Due to this issue, I decided to only brown half of the meatballs and bake the other half in the oven for about 20 min at 400 degrees and then add them to the pasta and sauce afterwards. Next time I would definitely bake all the meatballs.

LauraB08's Review

May 19, 2014
I also accidentally doubled the amount of meat, but that's not why I'm giving this recipe a low rating. PLEASE, if you make this, add some spices to the meatballs! Salt, pepper, basil, oregano, anything. It's distastefully bland without the spices. I know other reviewers gave this a higher rating, but they did not make the recipe as written.

tpetricini's Review

May 28, 2014
While this was very tasty, the meatballs just didn't hold up, despite following the recipe exactly. I eventually just browned it all and created a meat sauce. It was really good, but I won't bother with it again.

Good use of leftover ricotta

January 23, 2018
I quite liked these meatballs. I added oregano and basil, although it ended up being too much oregano, that's my fault. It would have been good to add salt, as well. Nevertheless, I thought they turned out tender and pretty tasty. I took another reviewer's advice and baked them, as I could see how they would fall apart while in a saute pan. 

Kristenbchurch's Review

July 17, 2014

Beccaroo73's Review

April 17, 2014
Quick and easy! My first time to make meatballs--not difficult at all. Will definitely make again for a quick weeknight meal

TheAspiringChef's Review

June 30, 2014
Very simple and easy to prepare. I had leftover veal/pork/beef mix so used that as my meat. The ricotta made the meatballs very tender. Next time, I would add more marinara as I like my pasta saucy.

Firemoneyguy's Review

April 28, 2014
I doubled the recipe as I had a pound of ground beef. I think I forgot to double the bread crumbs as my meatballs fell apart while cooking them. Also I couldn't find fresh linguine so I bought and used a box of barilla. Despite my faux pas with the meatballs, it came out great. Family loved it.

StephB's Review

April 11, 2014
Good. Took me much longer than 25 minutes. I added seasoning (salt, pepper, oregano) to the meatbal.s .nd was glad i did.

3 1/2 stars

May 22, 2015
I like the meatballs and the whole dish went together quickly - perfect for a work night.  However, I thought there wasn't enough sauce and next time, I'll add more garlic.  Homemade marinara sauce would be even better.