Elbow Pasta Balls With Romesco Sauce: Perfectly cooked Al Dente Pasta Balls in a smoky authentic Romesco sauce then fried into little bite-sized balls for a flavorful appetizer for those times you need something a little different and special.
Today I’m sharing a recipe for Elbow Pasta Balls With Romesco Sauce. It’s a twist on a risotto ball, a fusion using Barilla Elbow Pasta instead of Risotto to fill the bite-sized balls.
I’d like to thank Barilla for sponsoring today’s post. I was happy to work with them as it is a product we use regularly in our home. All opinions are mine alone.
Barilla Pasta is a pasta we use often because it’s easy to find just what you need as they have a lot of variety: Gluten-Free, Whole Grain, Protein Plus and many other options that fit all of the people that we end up having for dinner. (You can see all of their offerings for Pasta on their Product Page here!) The instructions on each box gives you the time to cook it so that it’s always al dente, always perfect.
Romesco sauce is a sauce that uses almonds, a slice of bread and a mix of peppers and tomatoes. It’s a thicker sauce, but works well in this recipe for both a flavor boost in the pasta balls and as a dipping sauce for the finished pasta balls.
Tips for Making Elbow Pasta Balls with Romesco sauce:
(I’ve included a step by step tutorial here for your review to act as a companion when making the recipe.)
- Toasting the almonds gives you a deeper depth of flavor while also giving it a more rustic texture.
- Roasting or sauteing the peppers, tomatoes, garlic and onion make the sauce less raw tasting and soften the veggies for a more sauce-like consistency.
- Using a food processor makes for easy pureeing. (You could also use a blender if you wish.)
- The pasta balls are made up of the pasta, a little bit of romesco sauce and a lot of asiago cheese. (You could also use parmesan cheese instead.)
- Chilling the pasta mixture helps the balls hold together better.
- Form the balls, then make a dipping station. First in egg mixture then a panko Asiago cheese blend. I double coat the balls for an extra crunchy texture on the outside.
- Frying them in a small amount of oil, with plenty of room in between allows for even cooking. (Fry them in small batches.)
- I sprinkle with cheese and a small bit of peppers for color. (Just an added touch to make the bites look prettier!)
When you bite into these Elbow Pasta Balls with Romesco sauce you will taste a hint of the smoky romesco and tangy asiago cheese. Look at them? Don’t you want to go make them right now?
If you head over to Barilla’s website, you can see a lot of ways to serve up a flavor fusion for different ways to eat pasta that you may not have thought of before!
I found the Barilla Pasta at my local Albertsons in the pasta aisle. I’ve included a picture of their bright blue packaging so that you know what to look for when you are looking for it. (There is a photo of the aisle below the recipe at the bottom of this post!)
If you are looking for other special bite-sized appetizers you can check out my posts for Gruyere Salami Risotto Balls and another option for using Barilla Pasta in this recipe for Pesto Pasta Cheese Croquettes!
The romesco sauce used in this recipe for Elbow Pasta Balls With Romesco Sauce is adapted from Joshua Bousel’s recipe that at one time was on Serious Eats.
- 1 slice bread, toasted
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- 1 medium tomato
- 1 large red pepper, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
Elbow Pasta Balls
- 8 ounces Elbow Pasta
- 4 ounces asiago cheese, freshly grated
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 extra large eggs
- 1 ½ cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- Bring a pot of water to boil. While water is boiling, take the tomato and place an x with a knife at the end of the tomato.
- When the water is boiling carefully drop tomato into the boiling water and let it remain in there for 30-60 seconds. The place where the X is will start to pull away.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove tomato from the boiling water and allow to cool for for 3 minutes. Then peel the skin away from the tomato. Cut out the core, and cut into large chunks and set aside.
- Heat to medium high a small skillet and heat the almonds until lightly toasted and slightly browned. Once done, (about 1 minute) add nuts to a food processor.
- In the same small skillet, place 1 tablespoon olive oil. Swirl and cover the bottom.
- Add garlic, minced onion, tomato and red pepper. Cook for 10 minutes or until softened and juices have been released from the tomato.
- Once finished, place all into the food processor with the almonds.
- Toast bread, break into small pieces and place into the food processor.
- Add rest of olive oil, paprika, salt and vinegar to the food processor. Blend on high until all pureed. About 1 minute.
- You can make the sauce ahead and place it into a container that you can seal. It will keep for 5 days.
Elbow Pasta Balls
- Cook pasta according to box instructions. Strain away water.
- Add ½ cup romesco sauce, all butter, 2 ounces freshly grated cheese, ½ cup of panko bread crumbs and 1 beaten egg to the pasta. Mix well.
- Place pasta mix in the fridge for 1 hour to set.
- Get out 2 separate bowls to set up a dipping station. (See diagram in post)
- In one bowl add the balance of panko bread crumbs and the balance of the freshly grated cheese and mix well.
- In the second bowl, beat the 3 remaining eggs.
- Once pasta is chilled, take a large handful and make into a ball. Dip first into egg wash then roll in the bread crumbs. Set on a plate when you have finished and proceed to the next ball. You will get about 36 balls.
- Once all balls are coated, then re-roll the coated ball in another layer of panko/cheese. (Do not roll in the egg a second time, only the panko/cheese.)
- In a skillet, add olive oil and bring to medium high. You will know when the oil is ready to use by dropping one piece of pasta into the oil. If it starts to bubble immediately, it is ready.
- Add pasta balls slowly and cook about 2-3 minutes per side. Allow room between each ball for even cooking. Cook until all sides are golden brown and crunchy.
- Remove from the oil to drain on a paper towel. Cook in batches if necessary.
- Serve immediately along side romesco sauce for dipping.
Note, cooking time does not account for chilling time of 60 minutes.
This recipe uses freshly grated cheese. It has more moisture in it. If you want to buy it already grated, buy it in the deli section where someone actually grated it and not the powdery kind. It melts better and the powdery kind will not bind it together properly.
Serving Size:36 Pasta Balls w Romesco Sauce
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 83Saturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 152mgCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 3g