Pasta with (Turkey) Sausage and Pepper Meatballs
1 pound Rigatoni, Ziti or other medium pasta shape – uncooked
8 ounces lean ground beef
8 ounces turkey sausage – casings removed
1/2 cup minced onion (1 small)
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper (1/2 medium)
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs (about 3 slices)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 recipe Basic Tomato Sauce – (see recipe)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil – divided
Place all meatball ingredients in a medium bowl. Knead the mixture with your hands until it is smooth. To prevent sticking, dip your hands into cool water before forming each meatball. Form mixture into 30 1 1/2-inch balls.
Pour the tomato sauce into a large, heavy-bottom saucepan and bring it to a simmer over low heat. Warm 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add half the meatballs to the skillet and brown them on all sides. Spoon the meatballs into the tomato sauce. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil to the skillet and brown the rest of the meatballs, then add them to the sauce. Simmer, stirring, for 20 minutes.
While sauce is simmering, prepare pasta according to package directions; drain. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Remove bay leaves from sauce; pour sauce over pasta and serve.