Baked Ziti Penne with Meatballs

I have been nesting all day. My husband caught me cleaning the baseboards in the kitchen at lunch on my hands and knees. After I finished, I decided that I had enough energy to try my hand at gluten-free meatballs. Yum! I decided that baked ziti with meatballs sounded delicious, but I could only find gluten-free penne at Harris Teeter. Not to be discouraged, I replaced the traditional ziti with penne. I made a homemade Chunky Tomato Sauce from items I had on hand, but feel free to substitute a gf marinara sauce to save time. This was a great recipe for my toddler because he could pick up and eat everything in the dish. He especially loved the meatballs and the bell peppers in this recipe, which made it worth my while!

baked penne meatballs Baked <del>Ziti</del> Penne with Meatballs
This is by no means the best tomato sauce in the history of the world. It is, however, one that can be made with just a few of the ingredients I keep stocked in my pantry.

2 28 oz. cans of whole tomatoes

2 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup of onion

1/2 teaspoon of oregano

1/2 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar

Red Pepper Flakes

1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil


In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion until almost done, add garlic and oregano and cook briefly (about a minute). Add tomatoes and crush them into the pan. Add balsamic vinegar and a dash of red pepper flakes. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 mins. Season with salt and pepper.


1/2 lb. ground beef

1/2 lb. ground pork

1/2 cup gf breadcrumbs

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1 egg

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease two 3 qt casserole dishes (or two jelly roll pans) with olive oil. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion until almost translucent, then add garlic, oregano, and basil and cook for about a minute. In a large bowl, combine the onion mixture, gr. beef, gr. pork, egg, breadcrumbs, parsley, parmesan, salt and pepper. Form about 4 dozen small meatballs- about a tablespoon size each and place them in the casserole dishes. Cook the meatballs 10-12 minutes. To make sure they don’t stick, I gently lift them with a spatula about half way through the cooking time.


1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

8 oz. penne

GF meatballs

Chunky Tomato Sauce

1.5 cups mozzarella cheese


Turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Cook 8 oz. of pasta according to the package directions. I used DeBoles Brown Rice Penne. Saute 1 red pepper and 1 green pepper until tender- about ten minutes. Add the bell peppers and the meatballs to the chunky tomato sauce/marinara sauce and simmer for ten minutes or until heated through. Combine the chunky tomato sauce mixture with the penne in a 3 qt casserole dish. Top with mozzarella cheese and heat in 350 degree oven 25-30 minutes or until casserole is bubbly.

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