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Baked Ziti with Meatballs

This no boil Baked Ziti with Meatballs is the perfect make-ahead meal for when you are short on time.

This no boil Baked Ziti with Meatballs is the perfect make-ahead meal for when you are short on time. -- Curious Cuisiniere

Baked Pasta: Great For Making Ahead

There is something incredibly comforting about a baked pasta.

While I love a good, loose pasta with sauce, Tim is mildly obsessed with the hearty, cheesy, and slightly crusty baked version. And, he’s right, there’s something about that slightly different texture and stringy, melty goodness of a baked pasta.

Even better, baked pastas are great for making ahead. Sure, you can bake them right away, but they’re just as good prepped ahead and refrigerated for a day, or even frozen for a day down the road when you don’t have the time to cook.

This no boil Baked Ziti with Meatballs is the perfect make-ahead meal for when you are short on time. -- Curious Cuisiniere

Making The Perfect No Boil Baked Ziti with Meatballs

When making baked pasta, moisture levels in the sauce are key. Some recipes will have you start with cooked noodles, in which case the sauce needs to be a bit thicker. But, boiling the pasta just seems like an unnecessary step to us. We eliminate the extra prep by using dry pasta and a thinner sauce.

But, using cooked or uncooked noodles, making baked pasta can be a bit of an art. We’ve found there are three keys to a perfect (and easy) baked pasta.

Covering while baking traps in the moisture, giving it nowhere to go but into the dry noodles. Your pasta is done when you can insert a knife smoothly into the center of the dish.

Uncovering to finish the dish for a final 15 minutes of baking ensures the top layer of cheese gets nice and golden (And, it means the cheese won’t stick to the foil. Because, let’s face it, there’s nothing more disappointing than when you take the foil off of a baked pasta dish and all that cheese comes right off with it.)

Resting the dish on the counter for 10 minutes before serving will let the pasta absorb any remaining moisture. Tent it loosely with foil if the pasta looks fairly dry, but leave it uncovered (to steam) if the dish seems too moist.

Our Baked Ziti with Meatballs Recipe

We love adding chunks of meat or veggies to our baked pasta dishes. Italian sausage or homemade meatballs, are definitely our favorite meaty add-ins.

It’s all the comfort of a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, made in one dish!

So easy!

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Baked Ziti with Meatballs

This no boil Baked Ziti with Meatballs is the perfect make-ahead meal for when you are short on time.
Yield:  1 (8x8 pan) (Double the recipe to fill a 9x13 pan.)
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 445kcal
Author: Sarah | Curious Cuisiniere

Ingredients

For the Sauce (yields roughly 4 cups of thin sauce)

  • 1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes, un-drained
  • 1 (6oz) can tomato paste
  • 2 ¼ tsp onion powder
  • 1 ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • ½ tsp basil
  • ½ tsp parsley
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ c water
  • ½ c red wine

Putting It All Together

  • ½ lb ziti pasta, dry
  • ½ lb meatballs pre-cooked
  • 1 c mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 400F.

For the Sauce

  • In a medium saucepan, mix tomatoes, tomato paste, and spices. Add water and wine, and bring to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Putting It All Together

  • In a greased 8x8 pan, spread 1 c of the sauce. Top with half of the dry pasta. Spread 1 cup of sauce over the pasta. Nestle all of the meatballs into the sauce. Sprinkle ½ cup of mozzarella cheese over the meatballs. Spread 1 cup of sauce over the cheese. Layer the remaining pasta over the sauce. Finally, spread the last 1 c of sauce over the pasta.
  • Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20-30 minutes, until you start to see bubbles forming around the edges.*
  • Remove the dish from the oven and top with the last ½ cup of cheese.
  • Return the dish to the oven and bake, uncovered, 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the dish is bubbly to the center.
  • Remove the dish from the oven. Tent it loosely with aluminum foil and let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

*To make ahead: Cover the dish with aluminum foil and refrigerate up to 24 hours. When you are ready to bake the pasta (roughly 1 hour before you would like to eat), place the covered dish from the fridge into the oven as it preheats to 400F. Bake for 30 minutes, until the edges are bubbly. Continue with the recipe as directed above.

Nutrition

Calories: 445kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 27.6g | Fat: 14.9g | Saturated Fat: 6.3g | Cholesterol: 80mg | Sodium: 654mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9.5g

 


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