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Mini Meatball Pasta Bake

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 2 hr 35 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
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Ingredients

Meatballs:

12 ounces ground beef

12 ounces Italian sausage 

1/4 cup rolled oats 

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano 

Splash of milk 

1 large egg, beaten 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil, for browning

Sauce:

Olive oil, as needed

3 cloves garlic, minced 

1 yellow onion, chopped 

One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes 

One 12-ounce can tomato paste 

2 cups hot water 

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 

1 tablespoon sugar 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil 

Layering:

1 pound ziti or mostaccioli pasta

16 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes 

1/2 cup grated Parmesan 

Directions

  1. For the meatballs: Add the ground beef, sausage, oats, Parmesan, parsley, dried oregano, milk, egg and some salt and pepper to a bowl and mix together well with your hands. Roll into approximately 48 meatballs (1 inch) and place on a baking sheet.
  2. To brown the meatballs, heat some olive oil in a heavy pot or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs in 3 batches and cook, turning, until brown, 4 to 5 minutes per batch. Remove and drain on paper towels after each batch. Set the meatballs aside.
  3. For the sauce: In a separate skillet or pot, heat some olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and cook until translucent, a few minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, hot water, parsley, sugar and some salt and pepper. Next, add the meatballs and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Stir in the basil, then set aside to cool.
  4. For the layering: Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente according to the package directions. Drain and set aside to cool.
  5. To assemble: Spoon some cooled sauce on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch dish. Layer on half of the pasta, half the sauce and meatballs and then half the mozzarella cubes. Repeat the layers once more and top the dish with the grated Parmesan.
  6. If serving immediately, baked in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F until the cheese is golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve.
  7. If serving later, cover the assembled dish and refrigerate. When ready to serve, bake straight from the fridge in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F until the cheese is golden and bubbly, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve.