One Pan Baked Cavatappi and Meatballs

Looking for an easy one-pan meal that your family will love? Look no further…

One Pan Baked Cavatappi and Meatballs

Dave Palmer
This easy recipe is a family favorite that presents a pretty balanced meal that has something for everyone in it. This is a "prep on-the-fly" dish, so you are cooking from the start and prep ingredients while you are cooking to save time.40 mins prep to plate
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 0 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 6 people
Calories 847 kcal


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion diced
  • 2 tbsp garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp parsley dried
  • 1 tbsp oregano dried
  • 1 tbsp basil dried
  • 25 oz meatballs frozen
  • 12 oz spinach frozen chopped
  • 29 oz fire-roasted tomatoes diced
  • 16 oz cavatappi
  • 8 oz mozarella cheese shredded
  • 1 oz parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 oz romano cheese grated


  • Put the appropriate amount of water and some salt in a pot to boil for the pasta, and get it started on a back burner. It’ll be boiling about the right time to drop the pasta in while the sauce is still cooking.
  • In a 5 quart saute pan, add olive oil and diced red onion and begin to caramelize over medium heat. As onions become less opaque, add minced garlic to the center of the pan. When garlic starts to sizzle, sprinkle dried parsley, oregano, basil and salt evenly around the pan to toast. When herbs become aromatic (smell good), add frozen meatballs evenly around the pan and toss (or stir) to coat. Put the lid on the pan while you prepare the spinach.
  • If you are working with frozen spinach, you can speed its thawing by slicing the “brick” with a sharp chef’s knife into 0.25 inch slices. This is a fast way to cut the spinach into smaller pieces that incorporate better into the sauce, and you don’t have to heat it before putting it in the pan. You also don’t have to deal with hot spinach juice. Simply place the frozen slices evenly around the dish right on top of the rest that’s already steaming nicely. We’re on the home-stretch for the cooktop…
  • Pre-heat your oven to convection bake at 400 F (or regular bake at 450 F if you don’t have a convection oven). If your oven is like mine, it might take longer than 10 minutes to pre-heat, so you may want to turn it on earlier in the process. The sauce can hold a while longer, but you don’t want the pasta to hold for long! Speaking of pasta… It’s time to drop it in that water that should be boiling rapidly by now. Cook it for the minimum amount of time on the box for “al dente” firmness. It’s going to get cooked some more after you boil it, so don’t overcook it.
  • Stir in canned diced fire-roasted tomatoes juice and all, and let it simmer uncovered while you wait for the pasta to finish. When the pasta is done, before you drain it, pour some of the starchy pasta water in the sauce. It acts as a slight thickener and flavor booster. Drain the pasta and immediately incorporate it into the sauce letting it cook a few minutes and soak up some liquid. Don't rinse your pasta... the sauce won't stick as well if you do.
  • If you have an oven safe pan like I do, top the sauce evenly with all of the cheeses, and put it uncovered on the center rack of the hot oven. Bake for 10 minutes or until the top begins to brown to your liking.
    Serve it hot, right out of the oven, and take in all of the applause… Success!


Calories: 847kcalCarbohydrates: 71gProtein: 45gFat: 42gSaturated Fat: 16gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 119mgSodium: 731mgPotassium: 835mgFiber: 6gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 7520IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 542mgIron: 5mg
Keyword baked, cavatappi, easy, family, meatballs, oatmeal, one pan, pasta
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AboutDave Palmer

Chef Dave Palmer was born in the Southeastern United States (AL), moved to Atlanta, GA as a kid, and rural Florida as an adult. After a successful six year run as owner/operator chef of Dave's Cafe & Gifts, his focus has shifted home to raise his four kids. Feeding them healthy whole foods, less processed junk, and sharing his kitchen creations so other can do the same have become his mantra. Let's get cooking!

Follow Chef Dave Palmer (@chefdavepalmer) on Instagram for photos of what's cooking now in his kitchen!