Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatball Bake
with Cavatappi and a Crispy Panko Topping
Sure, you’ve heard of a cheese-stuffed burger, but a cheese-stuffed meatball?! Now that’s next-level culinary innovation. Tuscan-spiced ground beef is wrapped around pieces of fresh mozzarella and then baked. While they’re in the oven, you’ll be boiling cavatappi and whipping up a from-scratch tomato sauce. Everything is stirred together, then topped with buttery panko and more fresh mozzarella. A trip under the broiler transforms the topping into crunchy, melty perfection. Now that’s a cheesy meatball!
Produced in a facility that processes eggs, milk, fish, peanuts, sesame, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, and wheat.
Tuscan Heat Spice
Not included in your delivery
Adjust rack to middle and top positions and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Wash and dry all produce. Halve, peel, and dice onion; mince a few pieces until you have 2 TBSP (3 TBSP for 4 servings). Halve mozzarella; dice one half into four equal-sized pieces (eight pieces for 4); tear remaining half into bite-size pieces.
In a large bowl, soak half the panko (you’ll use the rest later) with 2 TBSP water (3 TBSP for 4 servings). Let sit until absorbed, then add beef, minced onion, half the Tuscan Heat Spice (you’ll use the rest later), ¾ tsp salt (1½ tsp for 4), and pepper. Mix to combine.
Lightly oil a baking sheet. Form beef mixture into four 3-inch-wide rounds (eight rounds for 4); divide diced mozzarella between the centers of each. Gently fold meat around cheese, shaping and sealing to create cheese-stuffed meatballs. Place on prepared sheet. Bake on middle rack until cooked through, 20-22 minutes. Remove from oven; heat broiler to high or oven to 500 degrees.
Once water is boiling, add cavatappi to pot. Cook until al dente, 9-11 minutes. Drain and set aside. Reserve empty pot. Meanwhile, place 1 TBSP butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until melted, about 30 seconds. Stir in ¼ tsp Tuscan Heat Spice (½ tsp for 4 servings; you’ll use the rest later), remaining panko, a large drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat a large drizzle of olive oil in a large, preferably ovenproof, pan over medium-high heat. Add diced onion; cook, stirring, until softened, 4-6 minutes. Stir in remaining Tuscan Heat Spice, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, ½ cup water (¾ cup for 4 servings), 1 tsp sugar (2 tsp for 4), and salt until combined. Bring to a simmer; cook until slightly thickened, 3-4 minutes. Stir in 1 TBSP butter (2 TBSP for 4) until melted. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Carefully pour sauce into pot used for pasta; add cavatappi. If pasta seems dry, add a splash of water. Gently stir in meatballs to coat. Carefully transfer everything back into pan used for sauce. (TIP: If your pan isn’t ovenproof, transfer mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.) Top mixture with panko and torn mozzarella. Broil or bake on top rack until panko is golden brown and cheese is melted, 2-4 minutes. Let cool slightly, then serve.