Casserole with Mashed Potatoes Meatballs and Marinara (Gluten Free)
This casserole with mashed potatoes, meatballs and marinara is excellent for a cozy family dinner. Even the pickiest eaters are going to enjoy this meal. I used family favorite ingredients to create the recipe. I haven’t met a person who doesn’t love mashed potatoes, meat, marinara sauce and smoky cheese.
When I thought about this recipe it was cold outside and I was craving a hot and cheesy casserole with some delicious layers. So, I prepared homemade mashed potatoes and I spread them on the bottom of a casserole dish. Then I nested tiny meatballs in the mash and topped them with marinara sauce. The final touch was to cover everything with shredded, smoked Mozzarella and bake. The end result was so good that my whole family loved it. Since I consider you a part of my family, I had to share it with you.
Why should you make this recipe?
This recipe was inspired by a popular Bulgarian dish that consists of mashed potatoes, fried mini meatballs and homemade tomato sauce. I decided to simplify the recipe for you. Instead of frying the meatballs I bake them, and I cover everything with store-bought marinara and cheese. You can prepare my casserole with mashed potatoes, meatballs and marinara much faster and still enjoy the amazing flavors of the original dish.
This casserole is gluten free. I haven’t used breadcrumbs or flour for the meatballs. If you have a gluten intolerance, make sure you read the ingredients of your marinara sauce. Some brands of store-bought marinara may contain gluten.
Tips for preparing mashed potatoes
In my opinion yellow or russet potatoes are best for mashed potatoes. If your yellow potatoes have thin skins, you can boil them without peeling them. There is a lot of fiber and vitamins in the potato skin. If you are going to make the mashed potatoes with the skins on, make sure that you wash them very well.
When I make mashed potatoes I always cut the potatoes to smaller pieces. That ensures faster cooking time and easier mashing.
Always add the potatoes in a pot of cold water and add a generous amount of salt. Your potatoes will absorb salt while boiling. This will make seasoning of your mash much easier.
Warm up your milk for better texture of the mashed potatoes. I warm up my milk in the microwave before incorporating it in the mash.
Tips for making the meatballs
You can use any ground meat that you like for this recipe. I used a mix between pork and beef.
I used a measuring tablespoon to scoop out the meatball mixture. That ensures equally sized meatballs. I ended up with 20 meatballs.
If you are not sure that your meatballs are cooked use a food thermometer. The internal temperature should read 160F.
If I’m going to use a store-bought sauce I read the ingredients carefully. I trust Rao’s when it comes to marinara. Their sauce tastes amazing and it has the ingredients that any marinara should have.
Casserole with Mashed Potatoes Meatballs and Marinara
For the mashed potato layer
- 1½ lbs potatoes gold or russet
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup milk I used whole
- salt and pepper to taste
For the meatballs
- 1 lb ground meat of choice I used pork
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 jar Marinara sauce 28 oz/1.75lb I used Rao's
- 1 ball smoked mozzarella 8 oz grated
To prepare the mashed potatoes
- Wash and peel the potatoes. Cut then in thirds (so they cook faster), transfer them in a deep pot and cover them with cold water.
- Place the pot on a burner and turn the heat on high. Add some salt to the water. When the water is boiling bring the heat down to medium-low and boil until the potatoes are fork tender (about 10-15minutes).
- Once the potatoes are cooked, drain the water. Add the butter and warm milk to the mashed potatoes and mash until no lumps appear. Add seasoning to taste and stir.
To prepare the meatballs
- In a bowl add the ground meat, egg, oregano, salt and pepper, chopped onion and parsley. Use your hands to mix everything together.
- Form 20 small meatballs.
To make the casserole
- Preheat the oven to 400F
- Spread the mashed potatoes to the bottom of a casserole dish (mine was 13×5 inches).
- Arrange the meatballs on top of the mashed potatoes.
- Pour the marinara sauce over the meatballs and top with the grated smocked mozzarella.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked and the cheese is melted and bubbly.