The ultimate comfort food, this Penne and Meatball Casserole combines perfectly seasoned meatballs, al dente penne pasta, and a flavorful tomato sauce. This hearty and family-friendly recipe is an easy-to-make, oven-baked masterpiece that’s perfect for Sunday dinners or any occasion.
In our family, we believe that the heart and soul of any good meatball lies in the quality of the meat. So, I prefer to grind the meat myself. There’s something quite special about selecting the short ribs for the beefy richness and the pork shoulder for that tender juiciness. Sure, it may take a tad more time, but let me tell you, the difference is worth it.
Now, I must admit, not everyone has the luxury of time for this. Fear not, for this step is entirely optional. If the hustle and bustle of life has you yearning for simplicity, you can easily find pre-ground meat at your local butcher or grocery store.
And speaking of simplicity, let me share a little kitchen magic with you. Picture this: it’s a Wednesday evening, and you find yourself with leftover meatballs and a bit of that delicious Sunday sauce tucked away in the fridge. Now, instead of letting those flavors go to waste, why not turn them into a weeknight comfort dish? This recipe is a godsend for those moments when time is of the essence, and yet, the craving for that comforting taste of home persists. A quick assembly, a brief rendezvous with the oven, and voilà – a midweek feast that rivals even the grandeur of Sunday dinners.
Penne and Meatball Casserole
For the Meatballs:
- 1 lb. Ground Beef
- 11 oz. Ground Pork
- 1 Egg
- 3 Garlic Cloves minced
- 2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley chopped
- 1/2 cup Pecorino Cheese grated
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
- 1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
For the Sauce:
- Olive Oil
- 1 piece Beef Chuck Roast
- 1 piece Pork Shoulder
- All Purpose Flour for coating
- 1/2 Onion finely chopped
- 3 Garlic Cloves minced
- 2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
- 1/2 cup Dry White Wine
- 64 oz. Tomato Passata
- Salt and Black Pepper to taste
- 2 Dried Chili Peppers optional
For the Casserole:
- 1 lb. Penne
- 1 cup Pecorino Cheese grated
- 1 cup Mozzarella Cheese shredded
- 8 oz. Fresh Mozzarella Cheese sliced
Prepare the Sauce
- In a large sauce pot, add a large drizzle of olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.
- Cover a shallow dish with all purpose flour. Dredge the beef and pork with the flour. Shake off any excess before adding to the sauce pot. Cook for about three minutes on each side, until browned.
- Add the onion and garlic and sauté until softened.
- Stir in the tomato paste.
- Pour in white wine to deglaze the pot, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom.
- Stir in passata, salt, black pepper, and hot pepper. Simmer the sauce while preparing the meatballs, allowing flavors to meld.
Prepare the Meatballs
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine ground pork, ground beef, egg, garlic, parsley, pecorino cheese, salt and black pepper.
- Add in 3/4 cups of the panko breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly until well combined. Add remaining panko breadcrumbs, if needed.
- With clean hands, shape the mixture into meatballs of your desired size and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
- After baking, add the partially cooked meatballs directly into the simmering sauce. Allow the meatballs to cook in the sauce while the pasta cooks, absorbing the rich flavors.
Prepare the Casserole
- Cook the penne pasta in salted boiling water, according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and put back into the same pot.
- Add 4 ladleful's of the sauce into the penne pot, 1/2 cup of the pecorino cheese and 1/2 cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese. Mix until well combined.
- Add 2 ladleful's of sauce in a large baking dish and spread evenly to cover the bottom.
- Pour in half of the penne and spread evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecorino cheese and shredded mozzarella on top. Pour the remaining penne on top and spread evenly.
- Place the meatballs on top of the penne and cover with more sauce.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove and top the casserole with the slices of fresh mozzarella. Place back into the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
- Remove from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.