Herby Meatball Baked Pasta

Broil beef-and-pork meatballs and stir them into this mozzarella-packed pasta.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 40 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 6
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Ingredients

Meatballs:

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the baking dish

1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs

3 tablespoons milk

1/2 pound ground beef (80-percent lean)

1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

2 cloves garlic, finely grated

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Pasta:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes

One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

One 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 cup chopped fresh basil

1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound dried penne

3 cups shredded mozzarella

1 cup grated Parmesan

Directions

  1. Adjust an oven rack about 3-inches from the broiler and preheat broiler to high. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with foil and coat lightly with oil.
  2. Put the bread crumbs in a large bowl and pour the milk overtop. Stir to combine and let stand 5 minutes. Add the beef, pork, Parmesan, garlic, oregano, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and mix to combine with your hands. Add the egg and mix well to incorporate. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and arrange them in the prepared baking dish.
  3. Broil the meatballs until brown on top, about 4 minutes. Flip them over and continue to broil until golden brown and fully cooked through, about 4 minutes more. Wash the large bowl out.

For the pasta: 

  1. Switch the oven from broil to bake and preheat to 450 degrees F.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Add both cans of the tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat slightly, add the basil sprigs and simmer rapidly, uncovered, until thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard basil and stir in the chopped basil and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook the penne in the salted boiling water until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package directions instructs. Drain the pasta and transfer to the large bowl.
  4. Add the tomato sauce, meatballs, half of the mozzarella and Parmesan to the bowl and gently stir well to combine. Transfer the pasta-meatball mixture to a 3- to 4-quart baking dish and top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, until browned, about 15 minutes. Let the pasta rest about 10 minutes before serving.