Meatball Pasta Bake

Meatball Pasta BakeRecipe
Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas


Orange juice and fennel give this quick supper bright, fresh flavor. Chop fennel as you would an onion, or omit it, if desired.


Makes 8 to 10 servings
Total time: 1 Hour, 10 Minutes

Recipe from

Southern Living

Recipe Time

Hands-on: 30 Minutes
Total: 1 Hour, 10 Minutes


1 (16-oz.) package penne pasta
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1 medium-size fennel bulb, thinly sliced (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 (24-oz.) jars marinara sauce
2 (14-oz.) packages frozen beef meatballs, thawed
1 cup fresh orange juice
3/4 cup organic chicken broth
1 teaspoon firmly packed orange zest
1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup torn fresh basil
1 1/2 (8-oz.) packages fresh mozzarella cheese slices
Garnish: fresh basil leaves


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare pasta according to package directions.

2. Sauté onion and fennel bulb in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and fennel seeds, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in marinara sauce and next 6 ingredients; increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in basil, cooked pasta, and salt to taste. Transfer to a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Place dish on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Top with cheese.

3. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Note: We tested with Classico Marinara with Plum Tomatoes.