Dinner has never been so good! This Meatball Casserole combines everyone’s favorites, meatballs, pasta, cheese and tomatoes, into a delicious casserole that goes together quickly and easily.
I first decided to try this meatball casserole during the holidays. My daughter, husband and grandkids were coming to celebrate Christmas with us and, since she is gluten-free, I had to come up with dinners that would please everyone.
I originally found this recipe on The Kitchn and adapted it a bit to fit our taste and needs. I loved the idea of using packaged meatballs, but sadly they do not sell any that are gluten-free, but it is an option I will use when I make it again. So for this occasion, I did take the time to make my own.
I also loved changing up the standard mozzarella for a smoky version but I bet it would be just as good with plain mozzarella as well.
It’s really simple to put together too. Just cook the noodles & grate the cheese ahead of time and you are pretty much ready to go. And, with the addition of spinach, it gives the casserole a much needed boost of vitamins and minerals.
I changed the recipe up slightly as we like a much saucier version than the original and, of course, I used gluten-free pasta as well. I also added a little more seasoning so it was not quite as bland. How did it turn out you ask? I served it with a side salad and my cheesy Parmesan Knots and everyone loved it. I know I will definitely be making it again very soon.
SMOKY MOZZARELLA MEATBALL CASSEROLE
- 3/4-1 lb. gluten-free penne pasta or pasta of your choice
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin light olive oil
- 1-3 teaspoons minced garlic, depending on your tastes
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cans 14-oz each diced fire-roasted tomatoes, not drained
- 1-2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 8 oz fresh spinach
- 2 bags 16-oz each frozen Angus beef meatballs, thawed
- 8-12 oz smoked mozzarella, shredded
- 4 oz fontina cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Cook pasta according to package directions to barely al dente. Drain & set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Saute garlic and red pepper flakes for 1 minutes. Add both cans of tomatoes with juice, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and stir well. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Stir in spinach and cook for 3 minutes or until wilted.
- Remove skillet from heat and stir in meatballs and pasta.
- In a large bowl, toss cheeses together.
- Pour half of the pasta-meatball mixture into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Top with remaining pasta-meatball mixture and finish with remaining cheese.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes or until heated through and cheese is bubbling.