Ricotta Stuffed Meatballs & Baked Spaghetti
Tasty best describes this dish. A little twist on meatballs and spaghetti. Pesto meatballs with ricotta stuffing top this baked spaghetti. The inspiration for the pesto comes from America’s Test Kitchen, here. The next time I give this a try, my favorite meatball recipe will top it off. Adding ricotta stuffing was my idea but not an original one apparently. These meatballs are made with lean beef and the texture is more firm than my favs. The ricotta stuffing might be tastier in a more tender meatball. This recipe just may become your family favorite.
I Pint ricotta cheese
1/4 Cup chopped parsley
1/4 Cup shredded Romano cheese
1/3 Cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
Salt and Pepper
Mix thoroughly. Use a a heaping teaspoon of mixture roll into a ball. Make a dozen and a half. Place these on a freezer safe tray and place into the freezer for about 20-30 minutes until firm. Save the remainder of the ricotta mixture to use later.
Use the recipe for the pesto meatballs referenced or my favs, also referenced. You may also use your own recipe. Form a dozen and a half meatballs about the size of a golfball with your meatball mixture. Remove the ricotta balls from the freezer. Using your thumb press into the side of the meatball and add the hardened ricotta. Form the meatball around the ricotta. Work quickly as the ricotta will soften and make the task a little sticky. Next, if you have used 90% lean meat you can skip the next step. Meatballs tend to be better in my opinion with at least 15% fat … then brown a little to render off fat. In a skillet over medium high heat add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Brown the meatballs but avoid cooking through. Set aside.
Spaghetti and the layering
1 Pound spaghetti-cooked to al dente with a tablespoon of salt. Cook just before layering, otherwise it will stick together as it cools and layering will be more difficult.
2 Jars of your favorite sauce or make your own (Do a search for spaghetti sauces here if you need a recipe.) About 6 cups of sauce.
1 Cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
The remainder of the ricotta mixture
1/2 Cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Parsley for garnish
In the bottom of your baking dish add 1 cup sauce. Layer half the cooked (drained) spaghetti.
Dot evenly the spaghetti with the ricotta mixture.
Add 2 cups of the sauce over the ricotta and spaghetti.
Add the second half of the cooked spaghetti.
Add the meatballs over the top.
Add the remainder of the sauce, covering the meatballs.
Sprinkle all with the Mozzarella and half the Parmesan.
Cover the baking dish tightly with foil. Layer parchment in between if you have it.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. Avoid over baking. If you prefer a little brown to the top remove the foil in the last 5-10 minutes during baking.
Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and parsley after removing from oven.