Pork and fennel meatball pasta bake

This wonderfully comforting pasta bake recipe sees pork and fennel meatballs baked to perfection in a rich tomato sauce with reduced-fat feta and cheese. Serve with rocket for a hearty family meal

By Jennene Plummer
  • 15 mins preparation
  • 45 mins cooking
  • Serves 6
  • Print


  • 250 gram pork mince
  • 1 teaspoon toasted fennel seeds, roughly crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 red capsicums, seeded, chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 375 gram penne pasta, cooked according to packet instructions
  • 1 cup parsley leaves, chopped
  • 200 gram reduced-fat ricotta
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat tasty cheese, grated
  • baby rocket leaves to serve


  • 1
    Preheat oven to moderate, 180°C. Lightly grease a 3-litre baking dish.
  • 2
    In a bowl, combine pork, fennel seeds, chilli and lemon. Season. Using 2 teaspoons of mixture, roll into balls.
  • 3
    In a large saucepan, heat oil on medium. Cook meatballs for 6-8 minutes, turning frequently, until browned all over. Set aside.
  • 4
    Using the same saucepan, sauté capsicum and onion for 3-4 minutes until capsicum is just tender.
  • 5
    Return meatballs to pan with tomato, olive, vinegar and sugar. Bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes to reduce slightly. Season.
  • 6
    Add pasta, half each of the parsley and ricotta, mixing well. Spoon into baking dish. Dot with remaining ricotta and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  • 7
    Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve with rocket.


  • For convenience, you can replace homemade meatballs with ready-made ones from the supermarket.