I first saw this recipe here and I thought…oh my that looks amazing. Then I remembered that I had some frozen homemade meatballs in the freezer and some Italian bread that was just a day past prime and slightly dry. Within a couple of minutes I was whipping up some sauce in the Instant Pot!
I loved the idea of the Ricotta cheese. Yum!
For the red sauce:
Add the sauce ingredients to the Instant Pot. I use an Instant Pot Max and I love it! I just throw the veggies in whole. Instead of salt I will use some dried Parmesan cheese (the stuff in the green can!) and Maggi Beef Base. That (along with the onion powder) bangs up the umami flavor. Cook on Max pressure for 20 minutes or high pressure for 24, and quick release.
Your veggies should look like this (sad and wilted. but still flavorful!)
Puree with an immersion blender. I use the Breville Immersion Blender, it’s super powerful.
The meatballs I had in the freezer were this recipe. I tend to make large batches and keep them in the freezer. I cooked the meatballs in the sauce on high slow cook for about an hour, but you could also bake them then add to the sauce, or cook on the saute function in the Instant Pot (you’ll need to stir!!). I like the flavor cooking in the sauce gives and the flavor that’s added to the sauce.
I liked the idea of using Texas Toast, but I didn’t have any and I was concerned about it being difficult to scoop out with the whole pieces of toast. I used some Italian Bread that I had (that recipe makes a lot!)
For make-ahead dishes like this, I like to use these disposable half pans. They can then be kept in the refrigerator or freezer until we’re ready to eat.
Add the Ricotta layer.
And the meatball and sauce layer.
I then added some normal Mozzarella and some fresh Mozzarella.
And baked. I did pop it under the broiler once it was finished cooking, just to brown and bubble it up.
This was so good. I did make this ahead on a Sunday and cooked on a Wednesday which worked very well. It was great for dinner but the leftovers for lunch the next day were EVEN BETTER.
Meatball Sub Casserole
- Instant Pot
- 1 medium onion peeled and halved
- 14 ounce container crushed tomato
- 1 large carrot
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon beef base
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel
- ½ cup grated Parmesan in a can
- 4 cloves sliced or crushed garlic
- 2 tablespoons beef base
- 1 cup Ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
For the casserole
- 1/2 loaf Italian Bread cubed
- Olive Oil spray
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella
- 12 slices fresh Mozzarella
- Cook the sauce ingredients in the Instant Pot on Max pressure for 20 minutes or high pressure for 24 minutes. Quick release. Immersion blend or blend in blender for a smooth sauce. Add meatballs to sauce and cook on high slow cook for an hour (or bake meatballs, or cook quickly on saute function until meatballs are cooked through.) Add bread cubes to bottom of half pan and spray with olive oil and add Italian seasonings. Mix Ricotta blend together and spread on top of bread cubes. Add meatballs and sauce. Add Mozzarella's and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes until heated through. Broil for about a minute if browning on top is desired.