I let my kids pick their birthday dinner each year. My son asked for pasta and sauce. His sister was totally annoyed, “He wants spaghetti and sauce? I am planning on a German dinner with braised red cabbage, German potato salad and brats with sauerkraut. He wants spaghetti?” She was not impressed in the least.
I came up with a compromise, slightly fancy pasta and sauce. The tough part of making a Cheesy Baked Rigatoni for him is that he hates ricotta cheese. To me, that is the reason to have pasta and sauce. So, I went the easy way out.
My son loved this. I made one with regular pasta and one with gluten-free pasta. With a side of green beans and a simple green salad this meal was a hit.
There was enough for the kids to take for lunches in their thermoses. Thankfully, they both love leftover dinners for lunch.
Thought this is not something I would regularly serve it was nice to have a quick simple meal to have on the table within 35 minutes after the pasta boiled.
- 16 oz pasta
- 2 jars pasta sauce, pick your favorite or make a simple homemade one
- 16 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 lb. mini meatballs, frozen (I used gluten-free)
- Additional Parmesan cheese for serving if desired
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13″ x 9″ casserole dish with non-stick spray.
- Boil pasta according to package directions to slightly al dente. You want it to be slightly chewy, not overcooked.
- Drain pasta and return to pot.
- Add 1 1/2 jars of pasta sauce, frozen meatballs and Parmesan cheese to pasta and stir well.
- Pour remaining pasta sauce in the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Spread evenly to cover the bottom.
- Add 1/2 the pasta, meatball and sauce mixture to the casserole dish. spread evenly over the dish.
- Take 1 cup of shredded Mozzarella and sprinkle evenly over the pasta in the casserole dish.
- Add remaining pasta to casserole dish and top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven and allow to rest 3-5 minutes before serving.