Baked pasta dishes are great to serve as a family dinner, as well as to dinner guests. They can yield large portions, and can also be stored in the refrigerator to last several dinners. There are a variety of ways to prepare baked pasta. Here are 5 of my favorite simple baked pasta recipes.
Five Cheese Pasta
Five cheese pasta is a different take on macaroni and cheese. This dish has the cheesy texture, but also a creamy sauce. The ingredients needed are:
1 box of Rigatoni pasta, 2 cups of heavy cream, 1 teaspoon of dried basil, 1 cup of crushed tomatoes, 1 package of Italian blend cheese (I recommend a blend of mozzarella, cheddar, provolone, and asiago), and ¼ cup of gorgonzola cheese.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and grease a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Cook the pasta to your liking in salted water. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the heavy cream, crushed tomatoes, basil, 1½ cups of the cheese blend, and the gorgonzola cheese. Add the pasta to the mixture. Pour it into the casserole dish and pour the remainder of the cheese blend on top. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the top is slightly browned.
Baked ziti is a very simple recipe with little preparation required. The ingredients needed are:
1 box of ziti, 16 ounces of ricotta cheese, 3 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 jar of the spaghetti sauce of your choice, and ½ cup of Parmesan cheese.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cook the ziti to your liking in salted water. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and place in a large bowl. Stir in the ricotta cheese and half of the mozzarella cheese. Grease a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Spread half of the spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the pan, and add the ziti mixture. Pour the remaining sauce on top of the pasta and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and the rest of the mozzarella cheese. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.
Classic Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is a classic dish that can be made in many of different ways. While most macaroni and cheese dishes are made on the stove, baked macaroni and cheese with a breaded topping is a great dinner choice. The ingredients needed to make the macaroni and cheese are:
1 box of elbow macaroni or shells, 4 cups of grated cheddar cheese, 3 cups of whole milk, 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, and 3 tablespoons of flour.
The ingredients needed to make the topping are:
1 cup of breadcrumbs, ½ cup of grated cheddar cheese, and 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients to make the topping. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cook the pasta in salted water to your liking. Once cooked, drain the water, reserving half a cup of the water. In a separate pot over low heat, melt the butter. Add the flour, whisking for 2-3 minutes. Add the milk and bring the mixture to a boil. Once the mixture thickens, add the pasta water and cheddar cheese. Make sure that the cheddar cheese has melted, then add in the pasta. Mix well, then pour into a 9×13 inch baking dish greased with cooking spray. Sprinkle the topping on the pasta. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.
Tip: You can also add chunks of baked ham to the dish. If you choose to add ham, add it after you have combined the cheese mixture and the pasta.
This recipe is a different take on traditional lasagna. The chicken is a great addition and helps to make the dish filling if served as the main course. The ingredients needed are:
1 pound of ground chicken, 1 can of spaghetti sauce, 16 oz. of cottage cheese, lasagna noodles, 3 cups of shredded mozzarella, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, 1 ½ tablespoons of chopped parsley, 1 ½ teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of basil, and 1 egg, beaten.
Preheat your oven at 375 degrees. Cook the ground chicken in a frying pan over low-medium heat. Add in the spaghetti sauce, ½ tablespoon of parsley, basil, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, cottage cheese, and the egg. Spread the chicken mixture on the bottom of a casserole dish, and alternate the layers in the following order: one layer of lasagna noodles, one layer of the cottage cheese mixture, and lastly, one layer of mozzarella and Parmesan. Layer the dish until you reach the top and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
Gnocchi is a great pasta to serve dinner guests. If well presented, it will look stunning and as if it came from any 5 star kitchen. The ingredients needed are:
1 pound of potato gnocchi, ½ cup of spaghetti sauce, 1 ½ cups of shredded mozzarella, 1 teaspoon of parsley.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cook the gnocchi according to directions on the package in salted water. Once cooked, drain the pasta. Grease a casserole dish with cooking spray. In a separate bowl, mix the pasta, spaghetti sauce, and cheese. Bake for approximately 6-8 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and melted. Garnish with the parsley.
Keep in mind that you can always adjust the amount of cheese used in any recipe. I personally prefer more cheese in all of my baked pasta dishes, but you can use more or less, depending on your preferred taste. No matter what type of pasta you serve, be sure to serve it with salad and a side of French bread and butter.