Dump & Bake Meatball Casserole (small batch)

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

 
 
Dump & Bake Meatball Casserole

 I will be the first one to put my hand up and admit that I can be a bit lazy at times when it comes to cooking. I am always looking for shortcuts and easier ways to do things.  And if I can just use dump and bake recipes, so much the better!

I adore pasta.  It wasn't something I got to indulge in very much in my previous relationship, but now I am on my own, I can eat pasta to my heart's content. I have only myself to please now! If I want to have pasta 7 nights a week I can! (Not that I would!) 
 
 
Dump & Bake Meatball Casserole 
Cooking for just one, or two people for that matter can be somewhat of a challenge to be sure.  Especially if you have been used to cooking for much larger groups through the years and are now facing an empty nest.  

Many of us have not been able to get together with family over the last year and some months because of the Pandemic and some of us who were already in small families are now finding ourselves  single all of a sudden. (like myself) 


Dump & Bake Meatball Casserole

My own sweet mother found herself to be completely on her own suddenly at the age of 53, but I can tell you, she never let being on her own stop herself from cooking herself a delicious and satisfying meal.

She was always a fine example to me in this respect.  I know a lot of people find themselves on their own, especially once you get into your older years.  Even though you might be on your own, you can still cook yourself delicious meals without having a lot of leftovers afterwards.

Dump & Bake Meatball Casserole 
You will find a lot of times that smaller quantities of ingredients often cost just as much or more than their full sized equivalent.  That is not a problem for me. I just buy the full size and then freeze the remainder of the jar or packet in smaller sized servings, ready for me to thaw out when I need them.

Its very easy to do if you have a freezer, some freezer containers and masking tape to label and date what you have frozen.  For instance the marinara sauce I have used to day was from a full sized jar, which I divided into three amounts. I froze two, ready to use at another time and used one today.

Dump & Bake Meatball Casserole 
Just be sure to remember what you have in your freezer and then use it up before you go out and buy some more.  A note book where you can write the inventory of your freezer down and keep a record of it is very handy in that respect! 

That way you will never be short of the ingredients you need to make and bake easy and delicious casseroles like the one I am sharing with you today!

Dump & Bake Meatball Casserole 
This simple recipe requires only a few ingredients and goes together very quickly.  You can have it on the table pronto. You can find the full-sized recipe which inspired me here.
 
Of course I made a few tweaks here and there to make it even more delicious than the original!  That's me!  I can never leave well enough alone! 

Dump & Bake Meatball Casserole 

One thing which is handy to keep in the freezer when you are a singleton is things like Italian meatballs and the like. Things where you can only take out a few or a lot, depending on your need.  

Generally speaking (like frozen vegetables) they are loose frozen so you can shake out only a few.  The Italian meatballs I used today are from Blue Menu and are lower in fat, salt, etc. than regular meatballs. 

Dump & Bake Meatball Casserole


Of course if you are really on the ball you can make a big batch of your own meatballs, freeze them on baking trays and pack them into zip lock baggies to use in much the same way.

Today I took the lazy way out and used prepacked. 

Dump & Bake Meatball Casserole 
I suppose as far as that goes you could also make your own marinara sauce and freeze it in smaller quantities.  Again, I took the lazy way out and used a good bottled sauce.

You may wonder why I always specify to use a "good" bottled sauce, etc. Its as simple as "you get what you pay for." When one of your main ingredients is marinara sauce, you want to use the best one that you can afford.  Taste is everything when it comes to this recipe.

Dump & Bake Meatball Casserole 
The pasta actually cooks in the sauce in this recipe (no need to precook). You will be adding an equivalent amount of water to the sauce and watering it down so that the pasta can cook and absorb it.  So it only makes sense to use a decent, well flavored sauce. 

You will have your favorites I am sure.  

Dump & Bake Meatball Casserole 
For this tasty dish you literally do just dump everything into a casserole, cover and bake.  Easy peasy.

Dry pasta, pasta sauce, water and meatballs go in first.  I added a few herbs and seasoning to give it even more flavor. Nothing too involved. Just some Italian seasoning, garlic and onion powders, salt and pepper.

Dump & Bake Meatball Casserole 

These cook, tightly covered, for about half an hour and then you need to uncover the casserole and bake it a bit longer.

Not before you have added a bit of Parmesan to the main body of the casserole and sprinkled the top with a three cheese blend.

Dump & Bake Meatball Casserole 
The pasta ends up tasting incredible because it absorbs and cooks in the sauce.  The cheese adds another depth of delicious flavour. 

Altogether this is a fabulously simple and yet delicious casserole that is not only budget friendly, but also single person/small couple friendly, and in its full sized version, very family friendly.

Dump & Bake Meatball Casserole

 Everyone's a winner!  I had a delicious meal as you can see.  I had a bit of salad on the side (bacon caesar chopped salad) and I made some garlic toasts to enjoy with it as well.

Eating small need never be boring. That's my promise to you!

Dump & Bake Meatball Casserole (small batch)

Dump & Bake Meatball Casserole (small batch)

Yield: 2
Author: Marie Rayner
Prep time: 5 MinCook time: 40 MinTotal time: 45 Min
No fuss, no muss, delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (4 ounces) uncooked fusilli pasta
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) good quality marinara sauce
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) water
  • 8 frozen fully-cooked mini Italian meatballs, thawed
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp each garlic powder and onion powder
  • salt and black pepper to taste
To finish:
  • 2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese
  • A large handful of three cheese Italian blend cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425*F/225*C/ gas mark 7. Have ready a small 2 cup casserole dish.
  2. Stir the meatballs, dry pasta, marinara sauce, water, meatballs, garlic seasoning, onion seasoning, and Italian seasoning together in a bowl.  Pour into the casserole dish and spread it out evenly. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven. The pasta should be cooked now, if not, recover with the foil and return to the oven for a few more minutes.
  5. If your pasta is cooked (al dente) stir in the 2 TBS of Parmesan cheese and season with salt and black pepper.  Throw the cheese blend on top and return the casserole to the oven.
  6. Bake, uncovered, for a further 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and turning golden brown and the pasta is completely tender.
  7. Let sit for five minutes before serving.
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2 comments

  1. What a great idea for a mid week meal - and I love that the pasta cooks in the oven, so it's one less step to do. We love pasta in this house, so this one will be tried out for sure.

    I'm very much like you in that I buy in bulk and freeze the food in portion sizes. I even buy dried chickpeas and beans, cook the lot up and keep them in plastic bags in the freezer in a "tin" sized portions. When a recipe calls for a tin of kidney beans, I can simply pull a bag from the freezer. I abhor waste and try and make sure to use everything I buy. My husband says that we spend less on food for the two of us now than when he was a bachelor - and we eat a lot better!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great recipe. I just updated my freezer list today, sometimes take things out and forget to cross them off.

    ReplyDelete

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