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Baked Ziti with Meatballs

Grab a fork and dig into this Baked Ziti with Meatballs, a veggie-packed, cheese lover's heaven on a plate! The meatballs and garlic-basil marinara sauce amp up the flavors and make this a recipe you'll want every week!

Serves 4-6 servings     adjust servings

Preparation 30 mins Cook Time 45 mins Total Time 1 hr 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup portabello mushrooms
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 12-15 meatballs, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 24 oz. jars marinara sauce (Mezzetta Whole Garlic and Sweet Basil recommended)
  • 16 oz. ziti noodles, cooked al dente
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. Mozzarella ball, sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh basil, chiffonade

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 12x9 casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet set over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onions and peppers and cook 3-5 minutes until onions are translucent. Add mushrooms and cook an additional 2-3 minutes; add garlic and spinach. Cook 2-3 minutes until spinach wilts and garlic is fragrant. Remove to a large bowl.
  3. In another skillet or saucepan, add uncooked meatballs in a single layer set over medium heat. Cover and cook until no pink remains (8-20 minutes depending on whether fresh or frozen,) stirring as necessary so they don't burn. When they're almost cooked, deglaze the pan with the red wine, tossing the meatballs around to coat. Allow the wine to cook down, then add marinara sauce, allowing everything to heat up. Add the meatballs and sauce to the vegetable mix, then toss with the pasta.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta, Mozzarella, egg, and pepper until combined.
  5. To assemble, spread 1 cup marinara mixture on the bottom of prepared 12x9 casserole dish. Layer ½ of the pasta/sauce mixture on top, then place dollops of the cheese mixture on that, spreading carefully. Top with remaining pasta/sauce, spreading the meatballs around evenly.
  6. Lay Mozzarella slices on top, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Tent with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and gooey. You can also broil for 2-3 minutes if you'd like crispy browned cheese.
  7. Remove from oven and top with fresh basil before serving. Enjoy!

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© 2016 The Crumby Kitchen. All rights reserved.
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