Italian Sausage Meatballs Stuffed with Mozzarella in a Tomato Pesto Sauce

I don't actually have cable and thus do not watch The Food Network, although I'm sure if I did there wouldn't be enough hours in the day to accommodate my cooking show obsession. Sometimes when I get the chance I will watch episodes online to feed my need. A couple months ago I was watching an episode of 30 Minute Meals and in the middle of this episode, I was salivating so much I had to wipe the puddle of drool off my chin. Stuffing Italian sausage meatballs with mozzarella and drenching them in pesto tomato sauce?! Are you freakin' kidding me? Why didn't I think of this??!

While I didn't have the pleasure of coming up with this recipe, I did have the pleasure of devouring it. And it was just as good as I had imagined. It's incredibly easy too...very few ingredients, very little prep, with a BIG pay off.

*Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray

Serves 4

1 lb bulk Italian sausage, or sausages with casing removed
1/2 cup mozzarella, cut in 1/2 inch cubes (or 1 tub bocconcini)
1 jar pasta sauce
2 tbsp prepared pesto

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place sausage in a bowl. Cut mozzarella into cubes (or use bocconcini). Using mozzarella instead of the bocconcini means you can save some money. Pick up about a tablespoon amount of sausage, press a cube of mozzarella into the center, and roll the sausage around it making a ball about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on a baking sheet. Continue to roll all of the sausage and cheese into meatballs placing on the baking sheet when done. You should end up with about 14 meatballs. If your family likes more meatballs you might want to use more sausage, but using just 1 pound means you can get all the flavor and taste with less of a strain on your budget. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. The cheese will leak out of some of the meatballs but don't worry.

While the meatballs are baking, place the jar of pasta sauce in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the pesto, stir and simmer until the meatballs are finished baking. When the meatballs are done stir into the basil tomato sauce.

Serve over spaghetti..

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Wow, our family loved these. This spin on a classic dish is lovely, fast and delicious. The way the original recipe is written it would be quite an expensive meal, but with the few changes I made it easily comes in under $10. I bought the most inexpensive jar of pasta sauce since doctored it up with pesto anyways, regular mozzarella works just as well as bocconcini, and pasta instead of cheesey mashed potatoes brings the overal price way down.

This recipe is being entered into the blog event Bookmarked Recipes. Each week bloggers from all over the blogosphere try a recipe they have bookmarked either from a website, magazine, cookbook, or food blog and they are gathered and posted every Monday.

And for more great Rachael Ray recipes, check out Taste and Tell's Saturday's with Rachael Ray.