Stove Top Fusilli with Meatballs

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Does anyone remember that old Seinfeld episode where Kramer had Fusilli Jerry? Gah, I’m probably the only one who remembers it. I think of it every time I make fusilli pasta noodles. It’s funny the things that stick in your brain. I saw that all of the seasons of Seinfeld are on Netflix (I’m way behind in the times apparently), and I’m excited to watch a few of them with The Kid.

I’m more curious if they’ve stood the test of time or not. It’s crazy to watch Friends reruns and see the cell phones they used back then, and laugh at other things that aren’t even mainstream anymore. LOL, like an answering machine. Some of that stuff I have to explain to The Kid, and it hasn’t even been that many years!

On a totally unrelated topic, The Kid had to buy a few boxes of Hamburger Helper for a project at school. No clue as to why, but yeah. I had to buy 3 boxes of the stuff and it brought back memories of being just out of my parents house and relying on the ole magical box to make dinner on the cheap. Out of curiosity I read the ingredients to see if The Kid could eat the stuff with her dairy allergy. Nope, there was dairy in all the varieties but Tuna Helper.

Blurgh, I refuse to help my tuna. That just sounds horrifying to me and I eat anything. Anywho, it got me thinking though about what I actually could do to simulate Hamburger Helper at home so The Kid could try. I decided to make fusilli with meatballs in a tomato sauce. It was pretty simple and used ingredients that I already had at home. No grocery store strip or box opening required.

So here is the Quest version of Hamburger Helper without the dairy and without the other unpronounceable ingredients. It probably has better flavor too. 😉

Stove Top Fusilli with Meatballs Stove Top Fusilli with Meatballs

  • 6 oz (168g) uncooked fusilli noodles
  • 3 Tbsp (28g) breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 12 oz lean ground beef (93/7)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 14.5-15 oz cans petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried basil OR 1 Tbsp fresh basil

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain well. While the pasta is cooking, combine the breadcrumbs, garlic, beef and egg in a bowl and mix well. Form into 1 inch meatballs, about 12 – 16 meatballs total. Heat a large pan over medium heat and spray with non-stick spray.

Add the meatballs and cook about 5 minutes, turn them so they brown evenly on the outside. Once browned, add the two cans of tomatoes and basil. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. You may need to lower the heat a bit to keep it from splattering everywhere. Once the sauce has thickened, stir in the pasta until coated well.

Makes 4 servings at approximately 344 calories – 25g protein, 43g carbs, 8g fat.


  • Use any shape pasta that you like in this recipe – penne, fusilli, elbows. It doesn’t have to be fusilli. That’s just the shape I had otherwise I’d have used a different one.
  • For the breadcrumbs, I don’t go fancy and buy breadcrumbs. I just save the ends of my loaves of bread and toss them in my Magic Bullet to make crumbs. I had some leftover from my Chicken and Waffles so I used the rest in the meatballs.

Due to The Kid’s dairy allergy, I didn’t add cheese. If you want a cheesy version, you can sprinkle mozzarella over the top and pop it under the broiler for a bit. You can also sprinkle on parmesan cheese for flavor. Pretty simple to prepare and The Kid loved it. Take that Hamburger Helper!

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