In the mood for a comforting Meatball Pasta Bake Recipe? Easy beef and pork meatballs in a simple tomato sauce, tossed with penne pasta and baked to gooey perfection.
Who doesn’t love a good Meatball Pasta Bake Recipe? If I’m really honest, any pasta bake is just delicious but filled with homemade meatballs and baked so the mozzarella is gooey and stringy? Too good.
This easy pasta bake recipe is comprised of a few very important characters;
- Beef and pork meatballs
- Penne pasta
- Rich tomato sauce
- Gooey mozzarella
All homemade people. No jars of premade pasta sauce here, except for the jar of passata which is basically just pureed tomatoes. All the flavour it totally in your control and I looove that.
Also, I’m doing something new here at SSM. I have this desire to add more savoury foods and meals to this website – hope you’re ok with that – so I’ve made the decision that every second Saturday is now Savoury Saturday. We all good? Good. Let’s move on.
The easy meatball recipe
You heard right. An easy meatball recipe – so easy it can be made ahead of time. Make them and stick in the fridge to make the bake the next day or make up a massive batch and freeze them for a rainy day.
These homemade meatballs use a combination of beef and pork along with garlic, dried oregano and the usual meatball suspects to create moist, flavoursome meatballs. They are browned on the outside, then added to the sauce, pasta and cheese and baked through.
The pasta I use for this dish is penne. I like it because it holds it’s shape well and holds the sauce as well. Make sure to cook it to just before al dente (so that you can see just a little ring of uncooked pasta in the middle when you bite into it – this will ensure the pasta is perfectly finished off in the oven.
For more pasta bakes check out my Creamy Chicken and Tomato Pesto Pasta Bake, or this Leftover Ham, Sweet Potato and Ricotta Pasta Bake. Or maybe your more in the mood for my Roast Pumpkin Mac n Cheese.
A good pasta bake recipe is always filled with cheese right? Well for this one, I use mozzarella, torn into rough chunks and dotted all over the top (oh and a few sneaky pieces through the middle). Then I add a sprinkling of our favourite everyday cheddar to the top for some added flavour.
Once baked the cheese goes all gooey and stringy and makes this Meatball Pasta Bake downright satisfying.
Happy baking ?
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Meatball Pasta Bake Recipe
For the meatballs (makes about 32 meatballs)
- 250 g (9oz) beef mince
- 500 g (1.1 lb) pork mince
- 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (notes)
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 700 ml (3 cups) passata
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste (notes)
- 1/4 cup milk
- Handful fresh basil leaves, torn
- 6 cocktail tomatoes, cut in half
For the bake
- 3 cups dry penne pasta
- 250 g (9oz) fresh mozzarella, torn into small chunks
- 1/2 cup finely grated cheddar
For the meatballs
- In a large bowl mix all meatball ingredients. Mix and knead for a couple of minutes. Roll into balls of about 2 tablespoon. I have a dedicated meat cookie scoop that I use to help make sure they are all the same size
To cook the pasta bake
- Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F / 180C fan forced
- Cook the pasta according to packet instructions until slightly undercooked. Drain and if you are making it in advance of the sauce (rather than at the same time), drizzle a little oil through so it doesn’t stick together and set aside.
- In a large frying pan, heat about a tablespoon of oil over high heat. Add the meatballs and move them around the pan until just golden all over – don’t cook them through. Place in a bowl in the fridge
- To make the sauce, first heat the remaining oil over medium heat, then sauté the carrot, celery, onion and garlic until softened (about 5 minutes).
- Add the red wine and simmer for about 30 seconds or until almost all of the liquid has disappeared. Now add the passata, tomato paste and milk. Mix it well then bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often.
- Add the basil, and season to taste. Now add the meatballs and pasta and mix well.
- Spread about half of the mixture over the baking dish and then top with 1/3 of the torn mozzarella.
- Spread the remaining pasta mix over then top with remaining mozzarella. Sprinkle over cheddar, and dot the top with the cocktail tomatoes.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbling.
- If you’re unable to find cocktail tomatoes, just use a couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes instead.
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (4 teaspoons worldwide)
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