Classic spaghetti and meatballs gets a twist with this Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs, topped with lots of mozzarella cheese.
I found myself with some extra frozen Italian meatballs after making this Easy Italian Meatball Soup last week, so I thought a feed of spaghetti and meatballs was in order.
Rather than just enjoy them the classic way, I cooked up this Spaghetti and Meatball Pasta bake by pouring it all into my cast iron skillet and baking it up with a generous topping of mozzarella cheese. It's a really simple recipe, but it was easy and delicious, so I thought I'd share it.
I am a big fan of the edge of crispy pasta bits that baking pasta creates, yet underneath and inside, is lovely soft and saucy pasta, to give a nod to the classic, as well.
Make this one even easier by using a good quality, store-bought marinara sauce to start. Simply upscale it a bit with some fresh, sauteed garlic and onion. Throw in a few red pepper flakes, if you like a touch of warmth.
Cook's Notes for Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs
I used my stash of homemade marinara sauce, that I made this past Summer and froze. If you have some too, this is a perfect use for it. Otherwise, there are a number of nice jarred store-bought marinara sauces available now. You'll need about 4 cups.
As noted above, I used leftover frozen, store-bought Italian meatballs. You can also buy fresh, store bought Italian meatballs, or make your own and then quickly pre-cook them in a skillet while your pasta water is coming to a boil (or cook them up further ahead and refrigerate).
Be sure to undercook your spaghetti ever so slightly, about 2 minutes less that the package recommends.
If you don't have a large ovenproof skillet, you can just mix it all up in a bowl (sauce and pasta) and pour into a casserole instead.
Leftovers keeps well in the fridge and reheat nicely. I find reheating in the microwave in a covered dish helps preserve the moisture in the pasta.
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Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup onion (finely diced)
- 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
- Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 4 cups marinara sauce (homemade or store-bought)
- 8 oz spaghetti (broken in half before boiling)
- 18 1-inch fully cooked Italian meatballs (homemade or store-bought)
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded)
- Start water boiling for pasta and preheat oven to 375F.
- In a large ovenproof skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, if using, and cook, stirring, another minute. Add marinara sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer while pasta cooks.
- Break spaghetti in half and add to boiling water. Boil for about 1-2 minutes less than the package suggest. Drain pasta , then add pasta to the warm marinara sauce in skillet. Toss to combine, then level top. Press cooked meatballs into the spaghetti, leaving about 1/3-1/4 exposed on top. Cover skillet with aluminum foil and place into preheated oven. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Remove aluminum foil. Sprinkle shredded cheese overtop, then return to the oven uncovered and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden in spots.