Gooey mozzarella cheese, zesty turkey meatballs and pasta combine to create an easy meatball casserole that's delicious, comforting and freezer friendly!
6ounceswhole wheat pasta— any shape you love
2-3sliceswhole wheat bread— for making 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1poundextra lean ground turkey
8ouncesspicy Italian turkey sausage— casings removed
1large egg— lightly beaten.
1/4cupfreshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4cupchopped fresh parsley
4tablespoonsextra virgin olive oil— divided, plus additional for tossing the pasta
1small yellow onion
1/4teaspooncrushed red pepper flakes
32ouncesprepared red pasta sauce— about 3 1/2 cups
10ouncesfrozen chopped spinach— squeezed dry
8ouncesfresh mozzarella— half shredded or torn, half cut into thin slices (part skim is OK but do not use fat free), about 2 cups total
Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until barely al dente according to package instructions. You want it to still be firmer than you would ordinarily eat it, as it will cook further in the oven. Drain, toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking, then set aside.
Pulse the bread slices in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Measure 3/4 cup crumbs into a large mixing bowl. Add the ground turkey, turkey sausage, egg, salt, Parmesan, and parsley. With your fingers or two forks, mix lightly until the ingredients are combined, being careful not to compact the meat. Form the mixture into 2-inch balls. You should have about 28 or so balls total.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, deep, oven proof skillet over medium high. Add the meatballs, then cook, turning a few times, until all sides are browned, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a plate.
To the skillet, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onion and cook until beginning to brown and soften, about 4 minutes, then add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add the jarred pasta sauce and spinach. Return the meatballs to the pan and let simmer in the sauce until they are cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Once the meatballs are cooked, add the drained pasta and the 4 ounces shredded mozzarella to the skillet with the meatballs and sauce, then gently stir to combine. Top with the remaining 4 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese, then transfer the skillet to your oven. Bake until the cheese is melted and lightly crisp on top and the edges are bubbling, 15-20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes, then enjoy!
Leftover meatball casserole can be refrigerated for up to five days or frozen for three months (thaw overnight in the refrigerator). Reheat gently in the microwave, with extra tomato sauce to prevent the casserole from drying out.