Baked Pasta with Meatballs and Spinach

Quick and easy weeknight indulgence, this baked pasta is made with juicy meatballs in a bed of cheesy pasta with fresh spinach and creamy ricotta cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

This baked pasta recipe may have changed the way I make meatballs forever. 

I can’t stop thinking about them, especially the way they studded this baked pasta dish with that creamy ricotta cheese. These meatballs were made of a 50/50 mixture of ground beef and sweet Italian sausage, with garlic, cheese and breadcrumbs. The Italian sausage made a huge difference in taste. I mean HUGE! Even life-changing.

Quick and easy weeknight indulgence, this baked pasta is made with juicy meatballs in a bed of cheesy pasta with fresh spinach and creamy ricotta cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

What is really crazy is the fact that this recipe was so simple to make that it could be done practically any time. Even on a weeknight. It literally took only about an hour to make this Baked Pasta with Meatballs and Spinach dish from start to finish. I know because I timed it. Although there were some ingredients that I had made ahead of time, that kept this recipe timing in check.

This recipe calls for two ingredients that I always make from scratch: tomato sauce and ricotta. David and I aren’t big fans of the jars of marinara sauces you get from the store, or we just haven’t found one we like. Depending on the dish I make a Bolognese or basic tomato sauce or a combination, from scratch. I also cannot remember the last time I bought ricotta cheese from the store. I have been making my own fresh ricotta cheese, since Ina Garten taught me how one day on her show Barefoot Contessa. I just so happened to have some basic tomato sauce in the freezer and made my own cheese on the weekend to use for this weeknight meal.

I know you probably think I tend to over complicate recipes whenever possible. Maybe I do, but that is not my intention. I simply enjoy clean eating and love the way real food tastes. I will never sacrifice flavor for convenience. It’s kinda my thing. I just plan ahead for recipes like this.

Quick and easy to make, this baked pasta is weeknight indulgence at its best. Flavorful juicy meatballs are nestled in a bed of gooey, cheesy pasta with fresh spinach and dollops of fresh ricotta cheese.

Quick and easy weeknight indulgence, this baked pasta is made with juicy meatballs in a bed of cheesy pasta with fresh spinach and creamy ricotta cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Baked Pasta with Meatballs and Spinach | Servings: 4 | Time: 65 Minutes

Recipe adapted from Woman’s Day Magazine

  • 1 ½ cups Mezzi Rigatoni pasta
  • 6-ounce bag baby spinach
  • 1 large egg
  • kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • 8-ounces ground beef
  • 8-ounce Italian sausage
  • 3-4 cups basic tomato sauce (use your favorite jarred marinara sauce, if preferred)
  • 1 cup mozzarella, shredded
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese

Place the oven rack about 6-8 inches, underneath the broiler. Preheat the broiler and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Cook pasta according to package directions, in a large pot of salted water. Drain; return the pasta to the pot.

Quick and easy weeknight indulgence, this baked pasta is made with juicy meatballs in a bed of cheesy pasta with fresh spinach and creamy ricotta cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the meatballs.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, 2 tablespoons of water, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Quick and easy weeknight indulgence, this baked pasta is made with juicy meatballs in a bed of cheesy pasta with fresh spinach and creamy ricotta cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Stir in the garlic, parsley, bread crumbs and Parmesan. Let this mixture sit for 2 minutes.

Quick and easy weeknight indulgence, this baked pasta is made with juicy meatballs in a bed of cheesy pasta with fresh spinach and creamy ricotta cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Chop 1 cup of the spinach. Add the chopped spinach, beef, sausage, to the bread crumb mixture; mix to combine. 

I found it best to work the mixture with your hands, like you would a meatloaf. If you used your hands, make sure you don’t overwork the meat, which can lead to dry, dense meatballs.

Quick and easy weeknight indulgence, this baked pasta is made with juicy meatballs in a bed of cheesy pasta with fresh spinach and creamy ricotta cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Quick and easy weeknight indulgence, this baked pasta is made with juicy meatballs in a bed of cheesy pasta with fresh spinach and creamy ricotta cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

When the meat mixture is well combined, use about two tablespoons per meatball to form 1 ½-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheet; about 20 meatballs.  Broil the meatballs, until cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.

Quick and easy weeknight indulgence, this baked pasta is made with juicy meatballs in a bed of cheesy pasta with fresh spinach and creamy ricotta cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Pour the tomato sauce into the pot with the pasta and toss to combine.

Quick and easy weeknight indulgence, this baked pasta is made with juicy meatballs in a bed of cheesy pasta with fresh spinach and creamy ricotta cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Stir in 1 cup of the mozzarella and about ¼ cup of the ricotta cheese, until it starts to melt. Pour the mixture into a large casserole dish and gently toss with spinach and meatballs. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese and dollop with the remaining ricotta cheese.

Quick and easy weeknight indulgence, this baked pasta is made with juicy meatballs in a bed of cheesy pasta with fresh spinach and creamy ricotta cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Quick and easy weeknight indulgence, this baked pasta is made with juicy meatballs in a bed of cheesy pasta with fresh spinach and creamy ricotta cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Broil until golden brown, 3-5 minutes.

Quick and easy weeknight indulgence, this baked pasta is made with juicy meatballs in a bed of cheesy pasta with fresh spinach and creamy ricotta cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

I tore this recipe for Baked Pasta with Meatballs and Spinach out a Family Circle Magazine my mama gave me, many moons ago. It’s been hanging around just waiting for me to pick it from the growing binder of recipes to try. I’m really kicking myself for not trying it sooner.

Gracious me, I may have to make this again next week…

The following products are ones we love, trust and use here in our mountain kitchen. These products will help make this baked pasta with meatballs and spinach. Just click the image to learn more!

 
                   

 

5 from 1 vote
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Baked Pasta with Meatballs and Spinach

Quick and easy weeknight indulgence, this baked pasta is made with juicy meatballs in a bed of cheesy pasta with fresh spinach and creamy ricotta cheese.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 4
Author Debbie Spivey

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups Mezzi Rigatoni pasta
  • 6 ounce bag baby spinach
  • 1 large egg
  • kosher salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 8- ounce Italian sausage
  • 3-4 cups basic tomato sauce use your favorite jarred marinara sauce, if preferred
  • 1 cup mozzarella shredded
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese

Instructions

  1. Place the oven rack about 6-8 inches, underneath the broiler. Preheat the broiler and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions, in salted water. Drain; return the pasta to the pot.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the meatballs.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, 2 tablespoons of water, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the garlic, parsley, bread crumbs and Parmesan. Let this mixture sit for 2 minutes.

  2. Chop 1 cup of the spinach. Add the chopped spinach, beef, sausage, to the bread crumb mixture; mix to combine.
  3. When the meat mixture is well combined, use about two tablespoons per meatball to form 1 ½-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheet; about 20 meatballs. Broil the meatballs, until cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Pour the tomato sauce into the pot with the pasta and toss to combine.
  5. Stir in 1 cup of the mozzarella and about ¼ cup of the ricotta cheese, until it starts to melt. Pour the mixture into a large casserole dish and gently toss with spinach and meatballs. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese and dollop with the remaining ricotta cheese.
  6. Broil until golden brown, 3-5 minutes.

Recipe Notes

I found it best to work the mixture with your hands, like you would a meatloaf. If you used your hands, make sure you don't overwork the meat, which can lead to dry, dense meatballs.

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11 thoughts on “Baked Pasta with Meatballs and Spinach

  1. I have only used lemon juice once. In my opinion lemon juice works better for sweetened things and vinegar for savory. Mainly it’s to separate the curds and there isn’t a huge difference in taste.

  2. Pingback: Baked Pasta with Meatballs and Spinach | My Meals are on Wheels

  3. This recipe is a beautiful thing. I love how you incorporated those beautiful meatballs with that homemade ricotta. I made my ricotta (Ina taught me too) and I think it’s changed my life. I always thought I didn’t like ricotta. Wrong! I don’t like store-bought ricotta! John would even clean the garage for this recipe.

  4. very chill soooo,,,,,,

    any more dishes as u like,,,,,,

    best best best…… food,,,,,

    BEST point in the best for Eating,,,,

    Thanks for visite more..

  5. You’re killing me here, mountain sister! I was all prepared to make chicken tenders in the air fryer tonight and now I’m craving THIS!!!! Pinned and can’t wait to try this, thanks for sharing, oh my gosh!!

  6. Pingback: Sausage and Spinach Pasta with Homemade Ricotta | anotherfoodieblogger

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