When the fact that a recipe contains just five ingredients is right there in its name, perhaps it’s little surprise that, according to chef, food writer, and registered dietician Kristen Carli of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness, "It’s hard to mess up this 5-ingredient meatball pasta bake!"
But on the other hand, it’s easy to dress up this simple, tasty recipe, too. For example, "feel free to use Otamot red sauce to increase the veggies in this dish," Carli says, a dish that "pairs well with roasted broccoli, Caesar salad, and garlic bread." And don’t think that just because it’s a meatball-centric bake that it can’t be made vegetarian- or vegan-friendly. "You could easily sub any vegan meatball or vegan cheese in this dish," Carli says. "I recommend seeking out the brands of vegan cheeses that melt well. My favorites are Miyoko’s or Follow Your Heart."
As for other serving suggestions, how about serving this dish on those nights when you have about zero minutes of free time and about zero energy left after a long day? Okay, actually, you’ll need about ten minutes to prep this crowd pleaser and just enough energy left for a bit of stirring and pouring, but all things considered, if you’re looking for a super-easy but amazingly tasty dinner option, you’re looking in the right place right now.
Gather your ingredients for this 5-ingredient meatball pasta bake
Not only is this a simple, quick, 5-ingredient meatball pasta bake recipe, but it can be quite an affordable one, too. Depending on your preferred brands of pasta, red sauce, meatballs, mozzarella cheese, and milk, you can make this meal that will yield eight servings without spending that much money. It’s a great option if you’re looking for something that’s both delicious and won’t break the bank.
As for how simple the recipe is, did you even notice that we noted all of the ingredients right there? If you want to add anything into the mix for a bit more flavor, chopped yellow or white onions, some red pepper flakes, and some diced tomatoes won’t add much cost or effort but will chip in a bit more complexity. (On the other hand, sometimes it’s hard to beat elegant simplicity.)
Pre-heat your oven and cook the pasta for this 5-ingredient meatball pasta bake
Start by pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for this 5-ingredient meatball pasta bake recipe. Next, bring a large pot of water to a boil, maybe with a pinch or two of salt in the water. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta. Cook it according to the package’s directions, which will be about 9 minutes if you go with ziti noddles, a fine choice here.
As the pasta cooks and the oven heats, go ahead and coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or oil. Now, drain the cooked pasta and set it aside after a quick rinse with cool water.
Get mixing for this 5-ingredient meatball pasta bake recipe
In a large bowl, add 1-1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese (note that this is not all of the cheese), the meatballs, and the sauce. Stir these three ingredients together to coat the meatballs and combine them all.
Now, put the cooked pasta into that same bowl and then pour the milk (which is ideally near room temperature) into bowl over the top of everything, and stir all of your ingredients well. You are one step away from the work being done, FYI.
Fill the baking pan, top with cheese, then bake your 5-ingredient meatball pasta bake
Grab that greased baking pan and pour the contents of that bowl into it. Spread everything out evenly, then sprinkle the rest of the cheese evenly over the top.
Now, pop the pan into that preheated oven and bake your delicious 5-ingredient meatball pasta bake dinner for 20 minutes. And that’s that! Serve it on plates or in shallow bowls, remember the pairing suggestions from before, and if you have leftovers, Carli says: "Store [them] in an airtight container for up to 5 days." So dinner again in a few days, maybe?