Pasta Casserole with Meatballs

Posted on January 30, 2012 | by

Simple homemade tomato sauce and vegetarian options for the meatballs make this dish a winner for a host of different food preferences.

Yield: 10 servings (serving size: 1/10th of the recipe, 338 grams or ~ 1 ½ cups)

Homemade tomato sauce:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 ounce container of slices white mushrooms
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced thinly
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 leek, the white section and 1-inch of the green, cleaned and sliced thinly
2 large basil leaves, shredded
1 (35 ounce) can Italian peeled tomatoes
1 (26.455 ounce) container of Parmelat “Pomi” chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon black pepper

For the tomato sauce:
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan, over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until browned and much of the liquid has evaporated. Remove mushrooms and set aside. Add remaining olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Sauté onions, carrots, garlic, leeks and basil leaves for approximately 6 minutes until carrots are soft. Stir in tomatoes. In a food processor, add tomato/vegetable mixture and puree in batches. Add in sugar, salt and pepper and place pureed tomato sauce back in saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until just boiling, reduce to simmer and cook uncovered for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For the pasta dish:

 

1 box (16 ounces) 100% whole wheat rotini pasta (I use Gia Russa® brand imported Italian pasta)
Tomato sauce
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (or Veggie Shreds® mozzarella flavor shredded soy cheese)
1 pound ultra-lean ground beef , seasoned with bread crumbs and rolled into meatballs (or 1 container Veggie Patch® (9 ounces) meatless meatballs)
Freshly shredded parmesan cheese to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large skillet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, pre-cook meatballs over medium heat until they are no longer pink inside. In a large mixing bowl add, pasta, all of the tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, soy cheese, and meatballs. Mix and pour into a very large baking dish (I use a large lasagna pan). Bake uncovered in oven for approximately 20 minutes until cheese melts. Serve warm, sprinkled with fresh parmesan cheese.

Nutritional Information per Serving (338 grams or ~ 1 ½ cups pasta with 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese):
Calories: 491, Fat: 16 g, Cholesterol: 9 mg, Sodium: 1113 mg,
Carbohydrate: 56 g, Dietary Fiber: 9 g, Sugars: 10 g, Protein: 34 g


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