Baked Spaghetti & Meatballs (recipe)
My mom casually mentioned this recipe she’d made a few months ago. Oh you know, you just throw everything in one dish. Meatballs, spaghetti sauce, cheese, noodles. You don’t even have to cook the noodles first. It’d be a great use for all that marinara sauce you have in the freezer. She just rattled off these details like she was talking about the weather. The weather! Come on, this is serious stuff, Mom.
So, naturally, I did not rest until I had tracked this recipe down (I do that a lot) in Real Simple magazine (October 2015).
And I’m glad I did because this is one of those fast, frugal, filling meals that will be making a regular appearnace on our dinner table. One of the best parts is you use just one bowl to mix together the meatballs and one dish to cook everything together. That’s it. One bowl. One dish. Making traditional spaghetti & meatballs would involve one bowl, one frying pan, two pots, and one colander. I like making good food as much as I hate doing dishes, so this recipe is right up my alley.
I froze my Roasted Marinara Sauce in 4-cup portions, so it really is perfect for this recipe. I broke the frozen marinara sauce into large pieces, put them in my 9×13″ pan and slid it into the 400-degree oven. By the time I had assembled everything else, the sauce had completely thawed and was ready to go. A jar of storebought spaghetti sauce would work great, too.
Then you just break the spaghetti noodles in half, add them to the sauce, and tuck in 18 uncooked meatballs. The noodles and meatballs simmer in the sauce, cooking in under an hour. Sprinkle everything with cheese and basil. The end result is not like cutting out solid squares of noodle casserole, but a soft, saucy swirl of spaghetti and meatballs with marinara sauce and melted cheese.
Add some crusty bread and a green salad. Dinner is served! This would be a great meal for those busy nights, when you want something fast & home-cooked, but you don’t want to spend a lot of time, money, or effort making it.
Baked Spaghetti & Meatballs
adapted from a Real Simple recipe
1½ lbs. ground beef
1 c. seasoned panko bread crumbs
¾ c. milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground pepper
4 c. marinara sauce (perfect for our Roasted Marinara Sauce!)
1 c. water
12 oz. dry spaghetti noodles, broken in half
8 oz. grated cheese
3 sprigs fresh basil leaves (optional)
- Heat oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, combine the beef, panko, milk, eggs, salt, and pepper; mix well. Scoop & form the mixture into 18 meatballs.
- Stir together the marinara sauce and water in a 2½-quart baking dish (9×13″) until well blended. Add the spaghetti noodles and stir to evenly coat in the sauce, laying on the bottom of the pan in an even layer. Add the meatballs on top. Cover with foil and bake, gently stirring once or twice while baking, until the pasta and meatballs are cooked through, 50-60 minutes.
- Uncover, top with the cheese, and broil, watching closely, 6 inches from the heat until the cheese melts and some meatballs are lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil leaves, if desired.
Last month, a friend gave me this Pyrex Easy-Grab 3-Quart Baking Dish (with a lasagna! best gift ever!). I love the design of the extended handles. It really does make it easy to grab. And the lid on top is great for storing leftovers in the refrigerator or transporting food without losing half of it on the seat of the car. At less than $15, it’s a great deal. Amazon has these in stock and ready to ship!
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