Rigatoni with Kale Meatballs

I hope the word kale being in the post title hasn’t already scared you away. I don’t care much for it myself, especially on it’s own. However, there are a few exceptions and this meatball dish just so happens to be one of them. Luckily, I didn’t skip this meal in our weekly recipes selection and gave it the benefit of the doubt. I guess there are times when kale CAN be delicious.

We get HelloFresh twice a week when we are home. I’ve learned how to cook some healthy, delicious dishes with food combinations that I would have never imagined went well together. And a lot of those containing ingredients that I have stuck my nose up at my entire life. I’ve found that I actually REALLY do like roasted zucchini and green beans. Dejavu back to being a kid and trying stuff for the first time, only you’re a little more mature and less likely to throw a tantrum when it’s presented on a plate in front of you.

So if the word “kale” still has you feeling unsure, I’ll be completely honest with you: You can’t even taste the kale, so come back, read on and try this recipe for yourself.


Rigatoni with Kale Meatballs
Serves 4
A delicious and easy homemade marinara sauce topped over rigatoni pasta. The traditional meatball recipe comes packed with an extra special green guest: kale! Did meatballs just get a little more healthy?
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
45 min
  1. 1 yellow onion, diced
  2. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  3. 1½ cups kale, stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
  4. handful of fresh basil leaves
  5. 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  6. 1lb ground beef
  7. ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  8. 12oz rigatoni pasta
  9. ½ cup parmesan cheese
Meatball Seasoning
  1. 8 teaspoons dried oregano
  2. 8 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  3. 4 teaspoons dried basil
  4. 4 teaspoons dried marjoram
  5. 3 teaspoons garlic powder
  6. 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  1. Using a small bowl, combine all meatball seasoning ingredients and momentarily set aside after whisking well.
  2. Add ground beef, breadcrumbs, kale, a pinch of salt and pepper and meatball seasoning mixture to a medium size bowl. Combine ingredients well using clean hands. Shape into 1½-inch balls and place on a plate. Set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, stirring occasionally until fully al dente at around 10 minutes. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water and drain the rest.
  4. While pasta is cooking, heat a large drizzle of olive oil in a large deep skillet over med-high heat. Add onion, cooking until fragrant and transparent; about 3-5 minutes. Add minced garlic, cook for an additional 2 minutes and then crushed tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer until sauce appears to have thickened, around 5 minutes.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, carefully add meatballs to sauce mixture. Increase the heat to medium and cover; cooking about 5 minutes on each side or until meatballs are fully cooked through.
  6. Divide rigatoni pasta between 4 plates, adding marinara and meatballs on top. Add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a few basil leaves for extra taste.
  1. If sauce appears thick, add the ½ cup of pasta water.
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