You might know by now that I love a dump-and-bake casserole, but this one is almost too good to be true. Like the other versions out there, there’s no precooking needed – you dump all your ingredients in, give them a stir, pop the whole thing in the oven, and your work is done. This dump-and-bake is no different… except that it involves meatballs! Annnd tender curly pasta and plenty of cheesiness. (And yes, I meant it when I said no precooking.)
So how does that even work? Well, you only need five ingredients here and that’s thanks to the convenience of good ol’ storebought meatballs. Along with some pasta (we’ve used cavatapi), some marinara, and Parmesan and mozzarella, they make for a hearty dish that’s as comforting to the tastebuds as it is the soul.
You don’t need to thaw the meatballs. You don’t need to sear them. You just stir them up with the pasta, sauce, and a bit of water and bake it until the pasta is al dente. They cook through perfectly in the sauce and absorb some of that tomato flavor (and so does the pasta).
1 (16 ounce) package Barilla uncooked rotini pasta
1 (25 ounce) jar marinara sauce
3 cups water
1 (14 ounce) package fully-cooked miniature (cocktail-size) meatballs (if using frozen meatballs, make sure that they are completely thawed before using)
2 cups Kraft shredded mozzarella (or Italian blend) cheese
Optional: Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped herbs (such as basil, oregano, and parsley) for garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In a large baking dish, stir together uncooked pasta, marinara sauce, water, and meatballs. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle mozzarella over the top and bake uncovered for 10 more minutes (or until cheese is melted and pasta is tender).