Casseroles come in all shapes and sizes, they are so convenient and easy to put together, which is why I think we all love them for a quick “go to” weeknight meal. This Rigatoni and Cheesy Meatball Bake is just one of those meals; quick, satisfying, kid and adult-friendly. Easily doubled to feed a crowd. Serve it with a side salad and garlic bread for a complete meal.
1 lb. ground beef
2 cups rigatoni noodles, cooked al dente’ and drained
1 – 15 oz. can tomato sauce
3 med/small fresh tomatoes, diced (to equal 1 cup)
1/2-3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
2 cups Mozzarella Cheese (divided)
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. oregano leaves
2 tsp. parsley flakes
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
Cook Rigatoni noodles in boiling water according to package directions, just until al dente’. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking process; set aside. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, panko crumbs, eggs, Parmesan cheese, oregano and parsley. Mix thoroughly to combine and shape into approx. 20 meatballs. Cook in microwave on high, covered, approx. 10 minutes or until cooked through. Drain grease and set aside. In an 11″x7″ baking dish sprayed with cooking spray, spread just enough tomato sauce to cover bottom of baking dish. Place cooked rigatoni noodles on top of tomato sauce. Sprinkle 1/2-3/4 cup mozzarella cheese evenly over top of sauce, then top with diced tomatoes. Add cooked meatballs, placing in rows across the top of casserole (4 rows of 5 meatballs); add remaining tomato sauce spreading evenly over top of meatballs and sprinkle with garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Add remaining mozzarella cheese and bake in 350 oven 35-45 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Let sit 5-10 minutes for easier serving. Serve while hot with a side salad and garlic bread.