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Meatball Parmesan Casserole

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Looking for a comforting and hearty dinner recipe? This Meatball Parmesan Casserole is a crowd-pleaser that’s perfect for a family dinner or a potluck. It’s a delicious combination of homemade meatballs, marinara sauce, and lots of melted cheese, all baked to perfection. Let’s dive into this flavorful recipe that’s sure to become a family favorite.

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 jar marinara sauce (about 24 ounces)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Fresh basil for garnish (optional)

Instructions

Step 1: Preheat and Prepare

  1. Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Prepare the Baking Dish: Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with olive oil.

Step 2: Make the Meatballs

  1. Mix the Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Mix until all ingredients are well combined.
  2. Form the Meatballs: Roll the mixture into 1-inch meatballs and place them on a baking sheet.

Step 3: Cook the Meatballs

  1. Bake the Meatballs: Bake the meatballs in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until they are browned and cooked through.

Step 4: Assemble the Casserole

  1. Layer the Sauce and Meatballs: Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Place the cooked meatballs on top of the sauce.
  2. Add More Sauce: Pour the remaining marinara sauce over the meatballs, ensuring they are well covered.
  3. Top with Cheese: Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese and additional grated Parmesan cheese over the sauce-covered meatballs.

Step 5: Bake the Casserole

  1. Bake: Bake the casserole in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the casserole is heated through.
  2. Optional Broil: If you like a crispy cheese topping, you can broil the casserole for an additional 2-3 minutes, keeping a close eye to prevent burning.

Step 6: Serve

  1. Garnish and Serve: Remove the casserole from the oven and let it cool slightly. Garnish with fresh basil if desired. Serve the meatball parmesan casserole with pasta, crusty bread, or a side salad for a complete meal.

Cooking Notes and Variations

Tips for Success

  • Mixing the Meat: Avoid over-mixing the meatball ingredients to ensure the meatballs remain tender.
  • Even Meatballs: Use a small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon to ensure all meatballs are the same size for even cooking.
  • Cheese: Use high-quality mozzarella cheese for the best flavor and melting properties.

Variations

  • Different Meats: Substitute ground beef with ground turkey, chicken, or a mixture of ground meats for a different flavor.
  • Cheese Variations: Add other cheeses like provolone or fontina for a richer flavor.
  • Spicy Kick: Add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the marinara sauce for a spicy twist.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I make this casserole ahead of time?

Yes, you can assemble the casserole ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before baking. When ready to bake, add an extra 5-10 minutes to the baking time to ensure it is heated through.

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2. Can I freeze this casserole?

Absolutely! Assemble the casserole and let it cool completely before wrapping it tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. To bake, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake as directed.

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3. What can I serve with this casserole?

This casserole pairs well with pasta, a fresh green salad, garlic bread, or roasted vegetables.

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4. Can I use store-bought meatballs?

Yes, you can use store-bought meatballs to save time. Just make sure to adjust the baking time as needed.

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5. How do I store leftovers?

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave until warmed through.

This Meatball Parmesan Casserole is a comforting and delicious dish that’s easy to prepare and perfect for any occasion. With its flavorful meatballs, rich marinara sauce, and gooey melted cheese, it’s sure to become a family favorite. Try this recipe tonight and enjoy the delightful combination of Italian flavors in every bite. Happy cooking!

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