It is a never-ending loop in my head trying to generate ideas for dinner that each person in my family will like. It is truly comedic, and I am glad no one else hears my thoughts! I found this recipe on a day that I truly needed miracle and it is now a highly requested meal from my family. I love when things just come together like that! I did not even have time to go to the store before getting home to make dinner and I had all the ingredients on hand.
To say this dish is quick and easy is an understatement. You do not cook the pasta first. I was a little concerned about this, but it works, trust me! All you do is put the ingredients into a baking dish and throw it in the oven. That takes a few minutes at most! Keep this recipe close, you will use it a lot – willingly and as a lifesaver!
I know you and your family will enjoy this very much!
1 16 oz. package Rotini pasta – uncooked
1 24-25 oz. jar Marinara sauce
3 cups water
1 14 oz. bag of fully cooked, frozen meatballs (thawed)
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 425°F.
In a 9×13 baking dish, combine the uncooked pasta, marinara sauce, water, and thawed meatballs.
Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes.
Remove the cover, give the pasta a stir, and make sure the pasta is al dente. If it is not, cover again and return to oven until it is.
When pasta is al dente, sprinkle mozzarella cheese over top.
Leaving the casserole uncovered, return the dish to the oven for about 5-10 more minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the pasta is tender.
Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.
• While the casserole is baking, throw together a salad and garlic bread.
• Chop fresh basil and sprinkle over the top of the casserole before serving as a garnish that adds a great pop of flavor. Also, freshly grated parmesan cheese is wonderful sprinkled over the top.
• Watch carefully toward the end so the casserole does not overbake. The pasta will become mushy.
• For a smaller amount, the recipe is easily halved and use an 8×8 baking dish.
• Leftovers: Transfer any leftovers into an airtight container in the refrigerator – it will keep for 3-4 days. If the pasta dries out, add a bit of marinara before you reheat.
• Freezing: Pasta does not freeze well so avoid freezing. The pasta sometimes turns gummy and mushy. For some people, pasta dishes freeze just fine but I don’t want to risk ruining a dish.
Size: You can use small, cocktail sized meatballs if you prefer. The smaller ones are better if you have younger children.
Type: Use your favorite meatballs – Turkey meatballs, Italian meatballs, beef, chicken or pork meatballs all work very well. If you want, you can make meatballs and not use frozen ones.
Thawing: Before adding to the casserole, thaw the meatballs.
• Pastas: Penne pasta works well as a substitute as well as elbow pasta. Choose a type that is about the same size and the package indicates the cooking time to be 7-8 minutes.
• Baking Dishes: Glass and ceramic baking dishes take a bit longer that metal baking pans. Keep this in mind. Check to see if the casserole is done by tasting a piece of pasta.