Warning: there are two shortcuts in this recipe! Dost thou believe in thine heart it is still a recipe? Methinks, yes! I love this one because it makes a bunch to eat throughout the week!
You will need:
A deep-dish cast iron skillet
- 3 TBS olive oil, divided
- 1 TBS salt
- 2 cups short-noodle pasta (any kind)
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1 can marinara pasta sauce
- 6-8 frozen meatballs, Italian style, thawed
- 15 oz ricotta (whole or part skim)
- 2 TBS fresh basil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup mozzarella pearls
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 cup grated Parmesan (fresh recommended)
Cook the pasta according to the package directions, until al dente or slightly undercooked using the TBS salt and 1 TBS olive oil to season the water. Set aside, reserving a little pasta water.
Brown the ground beef in the cast iron skillet and drain beef on paper towels. Set aside.
Using the same skillet, heat 2 TBS olive oil and add 2-3 cloves of grated garlic, stir until fragrant. This smells sooooo amazing! Then add pasta sauce and stir. Add in reserved ground beef and meatballs. Stir for 5 minutes to let the meatballs release their delicious flavor into the sauce. If you forgot to thaw them ahead of time, no worries! Just stir them around until they’re no longer frozen, it will probably take around 10 minutes or so. Add the pasta and stir to incorporate. Reduce heat and let simmer.
In the meantime, chop basil and stir into ricotta in a medium mixing bowl, reserving a bit to sprinkle over the top. Add 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.
Grab that big ol’ skillet of pasta and sauce and stir in mozzarella pearls. Then using a spoon make little indentations in the pasta and sauce and dollop in the ricotta-basil mixture.
Top with more shredded mozzarella, grate Parmesan and sprinkle that over the top as well. Add the reserved basil and pop under the broiler for 5 minutes until the cheese on top is golden and bubbly.