Garlicky Pasta with Spicy Mexican Meatballs

This is a really simple summer meal to make after a long day of running around; that’s when I made this. I was in the city all day and didn’t feel like slaving over the stove for very long. I rummaged around in my kitchen and pulled out some random items that I had been wanting to use up. I’ve always been a fan of pork based meatballs over beef, but I wanted to add something unusual to them to make them a little special. I had pepper jack cheese in the fridge and some leftover chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, so I figured I would add those to the typical Italian ingredients in meatballs, like breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano. I was really pleased with the results; the meatballs were just a bit rich from the pork sausage, slightly smokey from the chipotle chili that I added to them, and both spicy and cheesy from the pepper jack cheese. For the pasta, I didn’t want to make a marinara sauce, so I decided to poach some minced garlic in olive oil over low heat for the entire time I was baking the meatballs and cooking the pasta. After I tossed the garlic infused olive oil over the pasta with some Parmesan cheese and some herbs, the pasta was absolutely perfect. You can use as little or as much garlic as you want, but I love garlic, so I used about four cloves. I can honestly say that this pasta is even better the next day after it has time to sit in the garlic olive oil overnight. I’m pretty proud of this unique pasta dish, and I hope you will be as well after you make it for yourself, your friends, or your family!

Garlicky Pasta with Spicy Mexican Meatballs
Your ingredients (minus the meat, for some reason).

Garlicky Pasta with Spicy Mexican Meatballs
Combine your meatball ingredients and mix together with your hands.

Garlicky Pasta with Spicy Mexican Meatballs
Roll into balls and bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through.

Garlicky Pasta with Spicy Mexican Meatballs
Mince some garlic very fine (I used 4 cloves, but 1 or 2 will be sufficient if you’re not a huge lover of garlic) and add it to about a cup of olive oil in a small sauce pot. Over medium-low heat, simmer the garlic in the pot for 15 minutes or so, stirring every 5 minutes, until the garlic is lightly golden. Turn the heat up to medium if the garlic isn’t turning color quickly enough, but don’t let it burn.

Garlicky Pasta with Spicy Mexican Meatballs
Cook your pasta according to package directions until al dente, drain, and toss with the garlic and olive oil. Add a bit more olive oil as you see fit.

Garlicky Pasta with Spicy Mexican Meatballs
Toss the pasta with a sprinkle of parsley, red pepper flakes (if desired), and Parmesan cheese. Serve with the meatballs and enjoy!

Garlicky Pasta with Spicy Mexican Meatballs
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-5
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ pound ground pork sausage
  • 1 egg
  • 1 or 2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, minced (include the sauce that sticks to the chilies)
  • ½ cup grated pepper jack cheese
  • ¼ cup plain or seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup good olive oil, plus more as needed to coat the pasta
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced (depending on how much you like garlic)
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ground black pepper, for garnish
  • red pepper flakes, for garnish
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl with clean hands. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Roll the into balls 2 to 3 inches in diameter and bake for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through and bubbling slightly.
  2. Place the cup of olive oil in a small sauce pan and add in the minced garlic. Cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes until lightly golden, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Add the garlic and olive oil, then add a bit more olive oil if needed. Toss with the Parmesan cheese.
  3. Serve the pasta with the meatballs and garnish with some freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle with a few red pepper flakes, if needed. Serves 4-5.


27 Responses

  1. Joanne says:

    After running around the city all day, this is just the dish I would want to come home to. I love how you mixed and matched flavor profiles here. And garlic has to be one of my favorite flavors of all time!

  2. Kate says:

    Looks delicious! I’m making the garlicky pasta tonight, no question.

    (By the way, wanted to ask you something, Sydney. I’ve been reading the blog pretty much since the beginning, and the recipes are so great. Is there any chance you could make an index of all the recipes you’ve posted, just sort of a list with links to each dish? I was on bakingbites today and liked their index: It makes all the recipes easy to find.)

    Thank you again for the wonderful new recipe! :)

    • Sydney says:

      Kate: My husband is the computer guy, so I will let him know about this. It’s a great idea and I hope that we can get it implemented soon!

  3. Tina says:

    Oh my word!! You are so creative! This looks amazing, I have to make this soon. Are you kidding ? In our house there is no such thing as too much garlic . Thank you for sharing another winner !

  4. ingrid says:

    LOVE garlic. I add it even when it’s not called for :) I’ll be poaching me some garlic this evening. How long does it keep if I strain the garlic out of it do you think? My mouth is watering thinking of all the ways I can use that garlic oil. MMMMMmmm

    You know I’m generally not fond of meatballs but these do sound tasty. Can’t wait to give this whole meal a try! Thanks for sharing, Sydney!

    • Sydney says:

      Ingrid: Glad to hear it! I’m not 100% sure how long it would keep; I’ve kept leftover oil in an airtight container for a week or so in the fridge and it’s been great. I’d imagine it would keep much longer than that, but I have no experience in doing so. I’m glad you liked the recipe!

  5. Deanna says:

    I love when meals that I’ve thrown together end up tasting really good. Pork meatballs always taste better than beef, although I have a recipe for meatballs from my great-aunt that calls for beef, pork, and veal. I have yet to make it, but my father swears they are the best meatballs.

    I’m making yours first though.

  6. TabzChewy says:

    garlic garlic garlic…this looks like it could easily be a favorite! Those meatballs looks especially good right now….

  7. Alyssa says:

    This looks delicious! I’ve never had anything like it–I’m going to have to try this

  8. I just adore your blog. Seriously. And that looks amazing!

  9. Juliana says:

    Sydney, your pasta dish looks fabulous…love with lots of garlic and sure the spicy meatballs are a great match :-)

  10. Amanda says:

    This looks fabulous, I prefer a garlic and olive oil type sauce over a red sauce any day. Yum!

  11. Silje says:

    I’ve been looking through your blog now for about two days and everything looks so amazing and gorgeous and tasteful (and your wedding pictures were amazing, belated congratulations). I kind of slowly realized (stupidly?) that every time I’ve commented on picturing_food, you’ve been the poster!

    I tried making these yesterday, and while they didn’t end up looking good likes yours (I added some chopped onion which made them look rough), they tasted amazingly! So thank you so much for the receipe and your amazing blog.

    • Sydney says:

      Silje: I would have preferred to use chopped onion if I had onions in the house, but surprisingly, I was all out! I’m glad that they still tasted great.

  12. Memoria says:

    Oh whoa, this dish sounds amazing!!!!

  13. Angela Mears says:

    This looks AMAZING! You’re right–there’s something extra good about pork meatballs. And I love it when pasta isn’t too done-up.

    A really creative new take on spaghetti and meatballs. Lovely.

  14. […] So, let’s get going.  We’ve modified both recipes, but the originals can be found here. […]

  15. Alyssa P. says:

    Oh my gosh, I made this tonight and it was AMAZING! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. This is the second meal I have planned out using your blog, I cannot wait to try out more! Thank you!!

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