There are a million versions of these recipes out there. This one was inspired, at least, by the post at Delish called Spaghetti & Meatball Pie
I liked the idea of the meatball layer giving it some body up top and dictating the 12 portions. I wanted to build it tall rather than low. I went low carb with the chickpea based pasta and used flaxmeal rather than breadcrumbs for the meatballs. The red sauce is my fast go-to and is at least as fast as going to the store and buying a bottle of commercial sauce, and let’s me reduce the sugar content, at the very least. I added cream cheese into the ricotta layer to give that some extra body.
Sauce: Dice and start to caramelize the onion in some EVOO. About halfway through, add in the peppers. If you are making this dish, hold back half of the mixture for the meatballs. Put all of the ingredients for the sauce in a food processor and blend. It does not get much easier than that.
Pasta shell: Cook one half to one pound (your call) of the pasta of your choice. I use the low carb chickpea-based pasta made by Banza because it is low carb, tastes great and holds a sauce. Drain and put into your casserole container. Mix with an egg, cheese, and ¼ to ½ cup of your sauce. Press up the edges and even the bottom. Bake at 325 for 15 minutes until firm and slightly crisped.
Meatballs: combine all of the ingredients by hand, scoop out 1/4 cup portions and form into balls (makes 12). Brown well in shallow oil in two batches. Drain the oil and return the meatballs to the pan. Add all of the sauce and simmer for at least 20 minutes.
Ricotta layer: Combine ricotta and softened cream cheese with an eggs, white powder, and garlic powder.
After the pasta has cooled down, slightly, spread the ricotta mixture into the cavity, then top with the layer of meatballs and cover with the sauce.
Bake at 325 for an additional 20-25 minutes, adding some shaved parmesan in the last 5 minutes.