Cheesy Meatball Pasta Bake
A hearty pasta dish made with penne or ziti, homemade tomato sauce and homemade meatballs and layers of gooey mozzarella cheese. Impossible not to like!
For the Meatballs:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 kg ground beef
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup parmesan
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 heaped tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 pinch red chili flakes
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
For the Tomato Sauce:
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz or 400 g)
- 2 cans tomato sauce (14.5 oz or 400 g)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp italian seasoning
- 1 tsp sugar
For the Assembly:
- 340 g penne or ziti pasta (whole wheat or regular) (12oz)
- 1 small bag shredded mozzarella cheese
For the meatballs:
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the finely diced onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, When it starts to soften, add the garlic and continue to cook until golden brown and soft. Set aside to cool.
Heat oven to 220 C (425 F). Line baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, place all the ingredients (including the sauteed onion/garlic mixture). Knead with your hands (great time to use rubber gloves) until thoroughly combined. Roll into meatball sized balls and place each ball on the parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, stirring the meatballs around halfway through. You’ll bake until you cut into one and you see it’s cooked through and the outside is golden brown.
For the tomato sauce:
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat till hot. Add the garlic and saute 1-2 minutes or until softened. Add the diced tomatoes and the tomato sauce, the Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and sugar. Bring to a simmer, add the meatballs*, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 C (350F)
To prepare the pasta:
Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Cook it just al dente as it will continue cooking in the oven. Drain the cooked pasta and set aside.
After the meatball sauce mixture has simmered, add the cooked pasta into the sauce and toss to combine. Place half the mixture into a large casserole/baking dish and then sprinkle with half the mozzarella cheese. Add the other half of the pasta mix, and top with remaining shredded mozzarella.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted. Broil for 2-3 minutes to get the cheese golden brown if necessary.
*You probably won't end up needing all the meatballs, so just dump enough in the sauce for your desired ration of meatball/sauce. Maybe 20 or so?
For a full version of the meatball recipe check out this post.