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Elbow Pasta Balls With Romesco Sauce

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.

Close up of Romesco sauce on plate surrounded by Elbow Pasta Balls:Elbow Pasta Balls With Romesco Sauce

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. 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.)

Step By Step Process shots of how to make romesco sauce and Pasta balls:Elbow Pasta Balls With Romesco Sauce
  1. Toasting the almonds gives you a deeper depth of flavor while also giving it a more rustic texture.
  2. 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.
  3. Using a food processor makes for easy pureeing.  (You could also use a blender if you wish.)
  4. 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.)
  5. Chilling the pasta mixture helps the balls hold together better.
  6. 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.
  7. Frying them in a small amount of oil, with plenty of room in between allows for even cooking.  (Fry them in small batches.)
  8. I sprinkle with cheese and a small bit of peppers for color.  (Just an added touch to make the bites look prettier!)
Close up of finished Elbow Pasta Ball broken in half to show the indide of pasta , sauce and cheese:Elbow Pasta Balls With Romesco Sauce

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!

Also, be sure and check out their Pinterest and Facebook pages for other Flavor Infusion recipes!

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!

Elbow Pasta balls surrounding a dipping sauce of Romessco, next the the Barilla Pasta used to make it:Elbow Pasta Balls With Romesco Sauce.

If you like entertaining and want lots of other ideas for entertaining your friends and family please follow me on Pinterest or on Facebook!

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.

Yield: 36 Pasta Balls w Romesco Sauce

Elbow Pasta Balls with Romesco Sauce

Close up shot of Elbow Pasta Balls on a dark grey plate with a bowl of parmesan cheese in the background.

Perfectly cooked Al Dente Pasta Balls in a smoky authentic Romesco sauce fried into little bite sized balls resulting in a flavorful appetizer for those times you need something a little different and special.

Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


Romesco Sauce

  • 1 slice bread, toasted
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 large red pepper, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Elbow Pasta Balls


Romesco Sauce

  1. 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.  
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. In the same small skillet, place 1 tablespoon olive oil. Swirl and cover the bottom.  
  6. Add garlic, minced onion, tomato and red pepper. Cook for 10 minutes or until softened and juices have been released from the tomato.
  7. Once finished, place all into the food processor with the almonds.
  8. Toast bread, break into small pieces and place into the food processor.
  9. Add rest of olive oil, paprika, salt and vinegar to the food processor.  Blend on high until all pureed.  About 1 minute.
  10. 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

  1. Cook pasta according to box instructions.  Strain away water.
  2. Add 1/2 cup romesco sauce, all butter,  2 ounces freshly grated cheese, 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs and 1 beaten egg to the pasta. Mix well.
  3. Place pasta mix in the fridge for 1 hour to set.
  4. Get out 2 separate bowls to set up a dipping station.  (See diagram in post)
  5. In one bowl add the balance of  panko bread crumbs and the balance of the freshly grated cheese and mix well.
  6. In the second bowl, beat the 3 remaining eggs.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.)
  9. 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.
  10. 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.  
  11. Remove from the oil to drain on a paper towel.  Cook in batches if necessary.
  12. 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.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

36 Pasta Balls w Romesco Sauce

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 83Saturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 152mgCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 3g

Did you make this recipe?

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Store Placement of where to purchase Barilla Pasta (Albertsons Grocery Store)












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Christie Campbell

Tuesday 17th of October 2017

These look like so much fun! And so delicious, too!

Michele @ Bacon Fatte

Monday 16th of October 2017

We just had Barilla pasta last night - it's so versatile and delicious! I absolutely LOVE these cheesy, golden brown little bites. And the romesco with *roasted* almonds?! I can't wait to taste it! What a treat!

Lisa@Lisa's Dinnertime Dish

Monday 16th of October 2017

I love Barilla pasta! These pasta balls look so good and that romesco sauce sounds amazing!


Monday 16th of October 2017

This looks like such an amazing recipe! I love anything pasta related, these would disappear so quickly at my house!


Monday 16th of October 2017


Michaela Kenkel

Sunday 15th of October 2017

Barilla is the only pasta I buy!! I am loving these!! I am putting together my appetizer lists for the upcoming list of parties we have and these are going on it!! LOVE!

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