This recipe is sponsored by Land O’Lakes, Inc.
Alright, gather round.
Let me tell you the tale of the no-boil, fail-proof, garlic-buttery, dreamy baked penne with meatballs.
The base of this baby is a velvety, savory, garlic-heavy tomato and butter sauce, which is just the right amount of clingy for those hearty whole wheat penne noodles. And the meatballs, spinach, and Parmesan round the whole thing out into a one-and-done type meal.
But what I really need you to know is this:
You can mix up UNCOOKED – repeat – UNCOOKED pasta, tomatoes, milk (!), garlic, and butter, in a pan and pop it in your oven and it will bake into something that tastes like you spent hours on it.
The importance of quality ingredients here is obviously high, considering that there aren’t many to begin with. Which is why we are using the best of the best: Land O Lakes® Butter! The only butter in my fridge. I really believe the butter is THE thing that takes this baked penne from average to OMG how did you make this? Gotta love that golden magic.
This is how you make it in literally one picture.
Mix and bake.
Note the garlicky butter mixture with oregano, and the fire roasted tomatoes, and the pasta, and the cheese because I got a little extra greedy in this particular batch.
All of it, plus or minus your extras, straight into the pan.
Mix, bake, and voila.
The world is your oyster. Or… your bubbling pan of baked penne.
You know that right now I’m digging the feed-my-family-in-two-snaps kind of meals, and bonus points if it’s easy enough to wear my baby in a wrap while making it.
This is that meal. Gold star, blue ribbon, new mom win.
Garlic, butter, tomato, penne, Parm, and spinach, HERE WE COME!
Watch how to make our Baked Penne with Meatballs:
Baked Penne with Meatballs! No-boil, fail-proof, garlic-buttery, easy dreamy weeknight dinner. SO GOOD!
- 8 ounces whole wheat penne pasta (half of the box)
- 1 28-ounce can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
- 2 cups milk (I used whole milk)
- 1/2 cup Land O Lakes® Butter, melted
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1–2 teaspoons salt (I use 2 teaspoons of coarse kosher salt)
- meatballs, cooked shredded chicken, or other protein of choice
At the end:
- a few handfuls of spinach
- grated Parmesan cheese for topping
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix all of the baked penne ingredients together in a 9×13 baking dish. Cover tightly with foil (double layer isn’t a bad idea).
- Bake for 35-40 minutes.
- Remove foil (HOT HOT HOT) and give it a stir. Add spinach and top with Parm, and brown it up for 3-5 minutes under the broiler. Let it stand for a few minutes so the sauce has a chance to thicken up. Voila!
Protein: This is delicious with meatballs (I used these chicken meatballs), and also delicious with a pound of cooked shredded chicken. If you do not include any protein, you will probably have a bit more sauce than what you need. As written, the base gives you enough sauce to coat the noodles AND the additional protein.
Veggies: Seems like kale would also do really well in this recipe.
Garlic Thoughts: I find that garlic powder and onion powder gives a distinct flavor that doesn’t replace fresh garlic but fills out the recipe really nicely. It gives some of the same savory flavor as what you might get if you added a packet of dry ranch or Italian seasoning or something… without using a packet of dry ranch or Italian seasoning.
Al Dente Seekers: 30 – 35 minutes = slightly al dente pasta. 40 minutes = softer noodles. Keep in mind that the noodles soften as they cool / move into the leftovers stage.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: Italian
Thank you to Land O’ Lakes, Inc. for sponsoring this recipe!
One more thing!
This recipe is part of our collection of easy pasta recipes. Check it out!