Appetizers

Meatball Pasta Bake

1 (16 oz) pkg. Penne pasta
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1 medium-size fennel bulb, thinly sliced (optional)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. fennel seeds
2 (24 oz) jars marinara sauce
2 (14 oz) pkgs. frozen beef meatballs, thawed
1 cup fresh orange juice
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. firmly packed orange zest
1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup fresh basil, torn
1 1/2 (8 oz) pkgs. fresh mozzarella cheese slices
Fresh basil leaves for garnishing

1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Prepare pasta according to package directions. 2. Saute onion and fennel bulb in hot oil in oven 8-10 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and fennel seeds, and saute for 1 minute. Stir in marinara sauce and next 6 ingredients; increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in basil, cooked pasta and salt to taste. Transfer to a lightly greased 13×9″ baking dish. Place dish on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Top with cheese. Bake at 350*F for 25 minutes.

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