Meatball Goulash with Tagliatelle

Meatball Goulash with Tagliatelle


I’ve been making this dish literally for years! The paprika gives this a tasty goulash-twist from the traditional ‘meatballs and pasta’ recipe.

It’s a proven crowd-pleaser and firm favourite of mine. Perhaps a little time consuming rolling and browning the meatballs but it’s not difficult and it’’s fun and totally worth it.

​This isn’t your traditional spaghetti-and-meatballs-type dish. I love the addition of paprika to the meatball mixture as well as the rich texture and flavour of the tomato sauce.

The plate won’t be swimming with liquid either, which is normally found with tomato-based pasta sauces. Instead, each meatball is coated with thick and delicious goodness.

​I used to make these meatballs with fresh breadcrumbs, and it worked perfectly well. I came across another recipe though which used semolina as a binding agent instead of breadcrumbs, so I gave it a go. Wow!

I find this method so much easier. Semolina keeps in your pantry or store cupboard for ages and ages plus it cuts down on a step or two from the original method. In other words – no more foraging for scrap bits of bread, chopping off the crusts and blitzing in a food processor. In addition, less washing up is always a winner in my book!

You can roll the meatballs to any size that you like. Personally, I prefer lots of smaller bite-sized chunks of meat in the final dish, but if you prefer a larger size, just roll them a bit bigger.

Why I don’t use wholemeal pasta for this recipe

To improve the nutritional value, particularly the fibre-content, I always serve this with a fresh green salad (no dressing). For me, wholemeal pasta in all it’s nutritional glory just doesn’t give me the same satisfaction as ‘normal’ white pasta does when I’m eating it. I find the texture a little too dense and the taste a little overpowering when used in a recipe like this. If you prefer though, you can always switch it up – see more ways to vary the recipe below.


For the ​meatballs:
  • 500g lean minced beef
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1–2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 4 tbsp semolina
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, for frying
For the ​sauce:
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • ½ tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tin water
  • 1 stock cube
  • Salt & Pepper
240g tagliatelle, to serve


  1. Combine the meatball ingredients in a large bowl
  2. ​Using wet hands, form into 20-30 meatballs and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes
  3. ​Add the olive oil to a frying pan and brown the meatballs in batches over a medium heat
  4. ​Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
  5. ​In the same pan, pour in all the ingredients for the sauce and bring to the boil
  6. ​Reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes until the mixture thickens
  7. ​Add the meatballs back to the pan and simmer for a further 15 minutes. Place a lid over the pan if the sauce is getting too thick, or alternatively add a little water
  8. ​Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to pack instructions and serve


I always use sweet paprika in this dish however if you prefer a deeper, more BBQ-style flavour then you could swap for smoked paprika instead.

To increase the fibre content, you could switch to wholemeal pasta. I find white pasta perfectly fine as it’s quicker to cook and lighter in texture but you can absolutely go with your preference.

You can also switch the dried sage in the sauce for any other dried herb that you particularly like. Try oregano, parsley or blends of Italian herbs and seasoning.

About the Author

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Paul Stokes BSc (Hons) is a Certified Personal Trainer, Accredited Sports Nutritionist, qualified Exercise to Music Instructor, Precision Nutrition coach, Massage Therapist and teaches 8 of the Les Mills Group Exercise programs.

He currently works in the Oil & Gas industry as a Wellness Coach, imparting his vast knowledge and experience to improve the quality of life of several hundred offshore workers.

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