Meaty Baked Pasta

Meaty Baked Pasta

Well, baked pasta is far from anything new.  This little version is my own yet very similar to many that are out there.  It’s more of a reminder of how wonderful a baked pasta can be.  There are a few steps involved so I wouldn’t call it the best weeknight meal.  However, Meaty Baked Pasta is just what the family calls for on the weekend.  

With this pasta casserole, you will find a meaty sauce that includes ground beef and Italian sausage, a light and creamy ricotta cheese layer that helps to balance the acid in the tomato sauce.  More sauce hugged pasta with chunks of tomato that is broiled oozy with mozzarella and parmesan.  It’s the kind of dish you know you should stop eating, but just can’t.

It serves many with even a few leftovers.  If planning ahead, you may want to assemble in two casserole dishes, bake one and freeze the other for a later meal when time is not your friend. 

Meaty Baked Pasta is homey, satisfying and best of all cheesy!  It’s not diet friendly, so I won’t pretend that it is.  Everything in moderation, right?  Enjoy!

Meaty Baked Pasta is hot and cheesy from the oven in a blue casserole dish with handles. There is a serving spoon half tucked into the pasta. The dish rests on a cork pot holder that is draped with a white and navy towel. Fresh basil sits in the background.
Meaty Baked Pasta
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    8-10 people 40 minutes
    Cook Time Passive Time
    40 minutes 5 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    8-10 people 40 minutes
    Cook Time Passive Time
    40 minutes 5 minutes
    Meaty Baked Pasta is hot and cheesy from the oven in a blue casserole dish with handles. There is a serving spoon half tucked into the pasta. The dish rests on a cork pot holder that is draped with a white and navy towel. Fresh basil sits in the background.
    Meaty Baked Pasta
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      8-10 people 40 minutes
      Cook Time Passive Time
      40 minutes 5 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      8-10 people 40 minutes
      Cook Time Passive Time
      40 minutes 5 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: people
      Instructions
      1. Heat olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until starting to soften, stirring often.
      2. Add ground beef and Italian sausage. Cook until browned and no longer pink, breaking apart any large chunks and stirring often. Dab out any excess fat with a paper towel.
      3. To the meat add marinara sauce, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and chili flakes.
      4. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 20- 25 minutes to meld flavours.
      5. While meat sauce is simmering, cook pasta according to package directions using well-salted water. (about 1 tbsp regular salt to 4 litres of water). Drain pasta and set aside.
      6. Preheat oven to 350℉.
      7. In a small bowl stir together ricotta, half of the mozzarella, half of the parmesan, dried basil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
      8. Lightly spray a 9"x13" casserole dish with non stick spray. Add half the cooked pasta and half of the meat sauce to the casserole dish. Stir to combine. Spread with ricotta cheese mixture.
      9. To the pot with the remaining pasta add remaining meat sauce. Stir to combine and pour over ricotta cheese layer. Top with remaining half of mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
      10. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes until bubbly. Broil for 2-3 to blister the cheese. Remove and allow to rest 3-5 minutes prior to serving.

      Product Favourites!

      Affiliate Disclosure

      I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
      Chili Tortilla Roll Ups

      Chili Tortilla Roll Ups

      Do you love crispy finger food?

      I do!  Chili Tortilla Rolls are perfect for any game day being crispy, cheesy and hearty enough for a gathering of game day fans.  

      These tasty rolls can be made up ahead of time and cooked when you need them for a nice crisp exterior.  Once assembled they also freeze well and will keep in a sealed container for up to a month.  They’re also a great way to use up leftover chili that you might have.  I have included a thick chili to use for these rolls, but any hearty chili can be used. 

      Served with the little extras like guacamole, sour cream and salsa makes them a game day hit. 

      Looking for other finger food snacks?

      Check out these great recipes!

      Catalina Wings

      Buttermilk Ranch Onion Rings

      Jalapeño Rings with Cumin Dip

      Chili Tortilla Roll Ups
      Print Recipe
        Servings
        20 rolls
        Servings
        20 rolls
        Chili Tortilla Roll Ups
        Print Recipe
          Servings
          20 rolls
          Servings
          20 rolls
          Ingredients
          Servings: rolls
          Instructions
          1. In a medium pot or dutch oven heat oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions and green pepper and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic, chili powders and cumin and continue to cook for 1 minute.
          2. Add ground beef and cook until beef is browned, stirring occasionally and breaking apart the chunks.
          3. Stir in remaining ingredients and allow to simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes to meld falvours. Chili should be relatively thick, but add a tablespoon or two of water if needed.
          4. Place one tortilla shell on a flat surface and spread with approximately 3 tbsp of chili leaving a 1" border around. Top with 1 tbsp of cheese. Moisten the top inch of the tortilla with water. Starting from the bottom, roll tortilla shell up a third of the way. Fold in sides 1 1-1/2" and continue to roll forward, enclosing all the chili in a tubular shape.
          5. Continue with remaining shells, chili and cheese until all have been rolled.
          6. Using a 2" skillet or shallow pot, add enough canola oil to come up 1". Heat over medium until hot. Place about 6 chili rolls in hot oil with seam side down (don't overcrowd). Cook for about 2 minutes until golden. Flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove with tongs to a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess oil. Cut in half diagonally and serve with guacamole, salsa and sour cream if desired.

          Affiliate Disclosure

          I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
          Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta

          Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta

          Do you like lamb?  I certainly do, and I believe it’s a meat you either like or don’t.  I also believe that some people associate lamb with mutton, which has turned them away from it. Mutton is from the same animal as lamb, but stronger in taste and usually much tougher due to the age of the animal.  Mutton is meat from a sheep that is 1-3 years old, which yields a stronger, gamier taste, and is tougher due to the muscles working longer.  Lamb, on the other hand, is meat from young lambs that are less than a year old.  Young spring lamb is tender and milder in comparison to mutton.

          My personal favourite in cuts of lamb is chops, specifically grilled chops, which are delicious with a mustard rub.  I also enjoy lean ground lamb and lamb shoulder.  The wonderful thing about lamb is that it can take on robust, bold flavours and pairs wonderfully with the tomatoes and olives in this Mediterranean style dish.  Saucy, rustic and full of flavour, Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta is a welcome change from regular beef meatballs. Perfect with rice or toasty bread!  Enjoy!

          If you’re a lamb lover like me, you’ll also want to try Braised Lamb Shoulder. Fork tender lamb shoulder braised in a creamy mushroom sauce.

          Recipe source for Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta:  Compelled to Cook

          Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            3-4 people 30-35 minutes
            Cook Time
            45-50 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            3-4 people 30-35 minutes
            Cook Time
            45-50 minutes
            Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              3-4 people 30-35 minutes
              Cook Time
              45-50 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              3-4 people 30-35 minutes
              Cook Time
              45-50 minutes
              Ingredients
              Meatballs
              Sauce
              Servings: people
              Instructions
              Meatballs
              1. Add all ingredients except oil to a large bowl. Gently combine with your hands or a wooden spoon. Roll mixture into 17-18 evenly sized meatballs approximately 1 1/4 ounces each.
              2. Heat oil in a cast iron or oven safe skillet over medium heat until hot. Arrange meatballs in a single layer and brown on all sides, about 20 minutes. Remove meatballs to a paper towel lined plate and drain all but 1 tbsp of fat from skillet.
              Sauce
              1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
              2. To the skillet add chopped shallot and garlic, sauté for 2-3 minutes over medium heat until soft, stirring often. Pour in white wine to deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits in the pan. Add chicken broth and allow to simmer for about 2 minutes.
              3. Using your hands, crush tomatoes and add to skillet along with oregano, paprika and pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Add meatballs back to pan, stirring to coat with sauce.
              4. Place in oven uncovered and bake for 20-25 minutes until sauce is reduced, stirring once. Remove from oven and stir to coat with sauce. Sprinkle with feta cheese and olives, return to oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with chopped red onion and fresh oregano if desired and serve immediately on top of rice or with crusty bread.
              Recipe Notes

              -dampened hands help to roll meatballs.

               

              Bacon Jam Mozza Burger

              Bacon Jam Mozza Burger

              Did someone say bacon? Yes indeed, and you won’t want to let Father’s Day go by without firing up the grill for this amazing Bacon Jam Mozza Burger. Thick ground beef chuck patties topped with mozzarella and plenty of sweet and smoky bacon jam. Trust me, dad will be happy!

              So let’s talk meat shall we?  Even though the bacon jam in this recipe makes a statement, it’s the beef that’s gonna make or break your burger experience. We’ve all eaten the pre made frozen hamburger patties and we’ve all made hamburgers from regular ground beef, but let me tell you, there’s a better way to go.  

              Ground chuck my friends is the meat of choice for your beef burger.  Specifically, ground  chuck with a 20% fat ratio. This is a highly recommended ratio because it lends to a nice juicy burger without being overly fatty, which isn’t required with ground chuck because you can cook it to your liking of medium, medium rare…..not the well cooked mandatory standard for frozen patties or burgers made from regular ground beef that need to be cooked to a minimum of 160℉ for food safe reasons. Most butcher shops will carry ground chuck or will be super happy to grind it for you.  Even in my small community, where it is hard to find fresh bean sprouts, I was able to source ground chuck at Sylvan Quality Meats.  A simple call ahead landed me several pounds of ground chuck at an 80/20 ratio, neatly packed in 1 pound pouches.  

              So back to the burger….probably the two most significant differences between burgers made with ground beef and those made with ground chuck is flavour and tenderness.  Ground chuck yields a beefier taste and is tender due to the fat ratio and the fact that you can cook it similar to a steak, medium rare, medium etc.  This ability to serve the burger with a little pink in the centre lends to a more tender burger.   You could say beef steak rules apply in this case.  Plus, there’s no filler, additives, or excess salt, just good quality beef with tasty toppings.  What’s not to love about that? Enjoy!

              Recipe source for Bacon Jam Mozza Burger has been inspired by: Epicurious Whiskey Bacon Jam

              Bacon Jam Mozza Burger
              Print Recipe
                Servings Prep Time
                4 people 30 minutes
                Cook Time Passive Time
                60 minutes 3 minutes
                Servings Prep Time
                4 people 30 minutes
                Cook Time Passive Time
                60 minutes 3 minutes
                Bacon Jam Mozza Burger
                Print Recipe
                  Servings Prep Time
                  4 people 30 minutes
                  Cook Time Passive Time
                  60 minutes 3 minutes
                  Servings Prep Time
                  4 people 30 minutes
                  Cook Time Passive Time
                  60 minutes 3 minutes
                  Ingredients
                  Bacon Jam
                  Servings: people
                  Instructions
                  Bacon Jam
                  1. Chop bacon into 1/4" dice. Heat a large sauce pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add diced bacon and cook uncovered until crisp and rendered, stirring often. Scoop out bacon onto a paper towel lined plate, leaving behind approximately 2 tbsp of bacon fat.
                  2. Reduce heat to medium and add chopped onion. Cook uncovered until softened and starting to caramelize, approximately 10 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining ingredients including cooked bacon and heat to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook for approximately 30 minutes until mixture is "jammy"
                  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. If you like a chunkier texture, serve bacon jam as is. If you prefer a jammier texture, add 1/2 the bacon jam to a food processor and pulse several times to break down bacon. Stir together with unprocessed half and serve. Yields an approximate 1 1/4 cups of bacon jam and will keep refrigerated in a sealed container for up to one week. Rewarm gently prior to use once it has been chilled.
                  Burgers
                  1. Preheat grill to medium high.
                  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Weight ground chuck into 6 ounce portions. Form each portion into 4 1/2"-4 3/4"patties using a press or your hands, making sure not to overwork the meat. Using your thumb, make an indent in the centre of each pattie. Place formed patties onto parchment lined tray and lightly brush both sides with oil. Sprinkle both sides generously with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
                  3. Place patties onto grill and cook for approximately 4-5 minutes per side for medium or 140-145℉. Flip patties only once. Remove from heat onto a plate and top with cheese. Cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for about 3 minutes, giving the meat time to rest and the cheese time to melt.
                  4. While burgers are resting, toast buns and warm bacon jam. Assemble burgers with bacon jam and other toppings as desired and serve immediately.

                  Grilled Steak Salad

                  Grilled Steak Salad

                  Grilled Steak Salad is just that!  Tender, juicy, spiced rubbed steak thinly sliced and served with crisp mixed greens, goat cheese and zesty Catalina dressing.  It’s low in carbs, high in protein and filling enough for lunch or dinner.  

                  For this recipe I used sirloin steaks that were about 1” thick.  They’re relatively lean and price friendly compared to their classy cousin the tenderloin. Either steak works here, choose what suits your mood and budget.  Fattier cuts like ribeyes are not the best option even though all that marbling makes for the ultimate juicy grilled steak, it sorta defeats the purpose of eating a salad for the main course.  Kinda like drinking diet pop while eating a hamburger and fries. I’m sure you get my point. 

                  Of great importance is to “rest” the meat.  The resting allows all the juices to be reabsorbed back into the muscle of the meat, helping to retain its moisture and therefore tenderness and juiciness.  Cutting a steak or roast without letting it rest will spill out all the meat juices that have accumulated towards the centre of the meat from the heat of cooking.

                  Once your steak is cooked and rested to perfection, those slightly charred and thinly sliced pieces are fantastic drizzled with a vibrant Catalina dressing.  Of course homemade is preferred and you can get the recipe here Catalina Dressing  It’s easier than you think and you probably have everything on hand already.  Enjoy!

                  Recipe source for Grilled Steak Salad:  Compelled To Cook

                  Grilled Steak Salad
                  Print Recipe
                    Servings Prep Time
                    2 people 25 minutes
                    Cook Time
                    10 minutes
                    Servings Prep Time
                    2 people 25 minutes
                    Cook Time
                    10 minutes
                    Grilled Steak Salad
                    Print Recipe
                      Servings Prep Time
                      2 people 25 minutes
                      Cook Time
                      10 minutes
                      Servings Prep Time
                      2 people 25 minutes
                      Cook Time
                      10 minutes
                      Ingredients
                      Servings: people
                      Instructions
                      1. In a small bowl stir together first 10 ingredients. Sprinkle steaks generously on both sides with spice rub, pressing gently to slightly adhere. Drizzle with oil and rub paste evenly over steak. Cover and set aside at room temperature while grill preheats.
                      2. Preheat grill to medium high.
                      3. Clean and dry mixed greens ( I like to use a salad spinner). Clean and slice vegetables, subbing in others as you like.
                      4. Grill steak to desired doneness. 4-5 minutes per side for a medium 1" steak. It will depend on thickness of steak. Remove steak and cover with foil and allow to rest at least 5 minutes.
                      5. While steak rests, arrange mixed greens on plate and top with sliced vegetables and crumbled goat cheese.
                      6. Slice steak across the grain and arrange on salad. Drizzle with Catalina dressing and serve immediately.
                      Recipe Notes

                      I recommend using homemade dressing, you just can't beat it.  Here's a link to my Catalina Dressing.

                      Catalina Dressing