Linguine with Meatballs in Blush Tomato Asiago Sauce – moist, tender meatballs in a deeply flavourful tomato sauce complemented with cream & asiago cheese.
We make several versions of pasta and meatballs at our house but I think this one is my personal favourite. I love the addition of Italian Sausage to the tender meatballs for an exceptional flavour boost. The mix of herbs is terrific too and the fennel seed in the sauce reflects the flavour of the sausage in the meatballs. A little whipping cream added at the end gives just a touch of added richness but it is an optional ingredient if you prefer. The asiago cheese is slightly milder and softer than Parmesan and adds even more rich flavour to the sauce. If asiago is not available Parmesan or Romano cheese will make perfectly acceptable substitutes.
- 1 cup coarse breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 pound Italian sausage meat
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp ground thyme
- 1 tsp dry oregano
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp olive oil for frying
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- ½ minced medium onion
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 4 ounces smoked bacon chopped into small pieces and fully cooked to crisp
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 19 oz can plain tomato sauce
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp basil
- 2 tsp fennel seed or ground fennel seed
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 3/4 cup grated asiago cheese
- Chopped basil for garnish
- 1 pound dry linguine noodles cooked to al dente in salted water and drained.
Mix together the breadcrumbs and milk until well combined.
Set aside for five minutes before adding the sausage, ground beef, egg, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.
Form into 1 ½ inch balls and fry in the 3 tbsp olive oil over medium heat to brown them on all sides.
Sauté together the olive oil, onion and garlic until the onions have softened but not browned. Add all of the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the whipping cream and asiago cheese.
Simmer very slowly for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, before adding the meatballs for an additional 10 minutes.
Just before serving finish the sauce by adding the whipping cream and asiago cheese.
Simmer while stirring for 5 minutes.
Serve over cooked linguine. Top with grated asiago cheese and chopped fresh basil.