This is a Weight Watcher’s casserole dish that is tasty and minus much of the usual fat and calories (I even cut back on the salt). It is a little time-consuming to prepare but the results are worth it. I have found that tomato-based Weight Watcher’s recipes need more sauce or tomatoes added, otherwise they are too dry. I have changed some of the ingredients as you can see below which will not affect the points value of 8 per 1 cup pasta and 5 small meatballs. Recipes give you ideas, then you create your own version with ingredients that appeal to you.
Weight Watcher's Baked Pasta with Meatballs
- 1 tbsp. olive oil (I use less)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 (28 oz.) can diced plum tomatoes in juice, no salt, drained and reserve the liquid (I use 2 (28 oz.) cans, not 1)
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 lb. lean ground beef
- 1/4 lb. lean ground pork
- 1/4 lb. lean ground veal
- (I substitute lean turkey for all of the meat)
- 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped (I use 1/4 cup)
- 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs (I use seasoned and low-salt)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 3 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute (I like to use egg substitute)
- 1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
- 1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped (I used a little more)
- 1 tsp. thyme (I do not add)
- salt to taste (I do not add)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups uncooked penne or ziti (I use about 3-1/2 cups)
- 1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Separate the tomatoes and juice. I use my kitchen shears to cut up the tomatoes before making the sauce.
Combine the meat, Parmesan cheese, 1/8 cup of the parsley, bread crumbs, egg substitute, basil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Form into small meatballs, about 40, using a 1-inch stainless steel scoop. These scoops make this step a lot easier. See Kitchen Gadgets – Stainless Steel Scoops.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or skillet; add the onion and saute for 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute; then add the tomatoes. Carefully drop the meatballs into the tomato mixture, and without stirring, gently cook for about 15 minutes. Stir in the remaining parsley. Continue cooking for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, while adding the reserved tomato juice.
Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain well and add to the sauce and meatballs.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a 9-x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Add the pasta mixture and sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for about 20 minutes. Uncover; bake until bubbling on top another 5-10 minutes.
Recipe by cooking with aunt juju https://cookingwithauntjuju.com/2012/03/24/baked-pasta-with-meatballs/