Posted by: marthabernie | June 25, 2014


I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago when a freidn gave me a lot of fresh basil from his garden.  I used Italian seasoned frozen meatballs.  You chop or slice the fennel as you would an onion, or the recipe says you can omit the fennel if you desire.


1 – 16 oz package penne pasa

1 small sweet onion, chopped

1 medium sized fennel bulb, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 – 24 oz jars marinara sauce

2 – 14 oz packages frozen meatballs, thawed

1 cup fresh orange juice

3/4 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon orange zest, firmly packed

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup torn fresh basil

8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese slices

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



  1. I could cook and eat this as I read it lol, thank you!


    • Did you try it? It’s really good and I love meatballs!


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