This is the kind of comfort food dish that you make on the weekend.
Think Swedish meatballs meets a casserole and that’s what we’ve got going on here today. Nifty, right? I tend to prefer casseroles in the winter time. Maybe it’s because they tend to be heavier and ideal for cold nights. Which means if you’re counting calories then save this recipe for a day when calories don’t count (like the weekend or on vacation 😉 ).
As a heads up, this recipe takes a bit of time to make, which is the real reason why I suggest making this on a weekend. It’s not difficult to make, but there a lot of steps. It took me way longer than I thought it would.
When I made this, it reminded me that I don’t like making meatballs. I find them kind of a pain to make. Does anyone else feel that way? The meatballs in these pictures are a little bigger than what the recipe calls for. I didn’t look at the package of beef that my husband picked up because I assumed it was the amount that I needed. My bad. The meatballs still came out great though.
My husband would have liked more pasta but I think that would ruin the integrity of this dish. I think that the ratio of carbs to sauce/gravy is key to a good casserole and it’s spot on here. Dry casseroles do not make for good eats.
While I did enjoy this meal, it’s not really something that I crave or gravitate towards. Give me a chicken rice soup or zucchini ravioli and I’m a happy camper. My husband ate all of the leftovers by eating it for several days in a row as lunch, so kudos to him for taking one for the team because this recipe made a lot of food.
Swedish Meatball Pasta Bake Recipe
(Makes about 6 servings)
Note: This recipe requires 30 minutes of chilling time.
Ingredients for the Meatballs:
- 1 and 1/4 cups plain panko bread crumbs
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2/3 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2/3 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 pound ground beef (I used 85/15.)
- 1 pound ground pork
- 3 tablespoons oil
Ingredients for the Pasta:
- 2 cups shell pasta
Ingredients for the Sauce:
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups beef broth (I used low sodium, equivalent to a 32 ounce box.)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce * (See Note below.)
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon salt * (See Note below.)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
*Note: My husband likes this recipe as is. However, I prefer less salt and Worcestershire flavor and would reduce these amounts in half. Therefore I recommend that you start with less salt and Worcestershire, taste the sauce, and add more to your liking if needed.
Directions for the Meatballs:
- Add the panko bread crumbs to a large bowl and set aside.
- In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Add the finely chopped onion, salt, pepper, allspice, and nutmeg and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir often.
- Add the minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to low/medium, and add the milk. Stir everything together and bring it to a simmer.
- Once the onion mixture has come to a simmer, pour it from the pan into the bowl of panko bread crumbs and stir everything together. The mixture will be very thick. Set this bowl aside to cool.
- In a separate extra large bowl, add the eggs and beat them.
- Then add the ground beef, ground pork, and cooled onion mixture. Mix everything together. (It’s gross, but it’s easiest and quickest to do using your hands.)
- Form about 30 balls and then chill them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Once the meatballs are done chilling, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat up the oil.
- Add the meatballs to the skillet in batches and cook them until they are browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Batches made it so the pan wasn’t over crowded which made flipping them and seeing when they were done easier.
- Transfer the meatballs to a dish and set them aside.
Directions for the Pasta:
- Cook the pasta al dente according to the directions on the box, drain it and add it to a 9 x 13 oven safe baking dish.
Directions for the Sauce and Assembly:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (This is not part of the sauce steps but you’ll want the oven preheated by the time you are done with these steps.)
- Place the meatballs into the baking dish, nestling them into the pasta.
- In a large skillet on medium heat, melt the butter.
- Add the flour, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the beef broth, water, Worcestershire, salt and pepper and bring it to a simmer. Stir often.
- Reduce the heat to low/medium, and add the parsley and heavy cream. Stir everything together constantly and cook it until it thickens, about 10 minutes.
- Carefully pour the sauce over the meatballs and pasta.
- Bake the Swedish meatballs, pasta, and sauce in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Slightly adapted from: The Beach House Kitchen