We’ve been really into cozy recipes lately, with the weather finally cooling down in LA, and pasta has been high on the list. This Baked Bucatini and Meatballs recipe is so hearty and comforting and perfect for chilly weather. The best part of the recipe is the crispy, buttery and cheesy crust you get around the edges of the pan..so good! This recipe makes quite a bit and feeds anywhere from 8 to 12 people, so its great for large families, get togethers, etc.
This dish is also a great way to re-purpose spaghetti and meatball leftovers; just toss the mixture with Parmesan and prepare the baking dish as directed and you’re set! I also love recipes like this because they’re pretty low maintenance, even the meatballs don’t require too many ingredients or too much work. You can also use your favorite store bought marinara sauce to speed the process up.
Baked Bucatini and Meatballs
Makes 1 (9”x13”) pan
1 cup grated Parmesan, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
12 ounces bucatini
3 cups marinara sauce
10 butter crackers, crushed
3 tablespoons milk
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced oregano
2 teaspoons minced sage
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces shredded (part-skim) mozzarella
fresh basil leaves
1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.
2. Grease a 9”x13” baking dish with the softened butter. Add 1/2 cup of Parmesan and shake over the butter until the entire bottom and sides of the baking dish is covered in a thin layer of butter and parmesan. Set aside until ready to use.
3. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add a handful of salt followed by the pasta. Boil pasta, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain and pour into a large mixing bowl and toss together with all but 1/2 cup marinara and remaining Parmesan. Set aside.
4. For meatballs: Place crackers into a large mixing bowl and cover with milk. Allow crackers to soak for 2 to 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and mix with your hands until mixture is just well combined (try not to overwork the mixture or the meatballs will become tough). Shape into 2oz meatballs (totaling 8-9) and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Pour oil into a large skillet and place over medium-high heat. Sear and brown meatballs all over for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.
5. To assemble: Pour sauced bucatini into the prepared baking dish, and gently press down to create and even, flat surface. Gently press the meatballs into different areas of the bucatini, until they’re about 2/3 of the way in the pasta. Sprinkle mozzarella over the surface and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cheese melts and a golden crust has formed over the surface.
6. Remove the bake from the oven and cool, about 15 minutes. Top with fresh basil leaves and serve.