Baked Pasta Recipe Ideas
JupiterimagesWho doesn't love a bubbling baked macaroni and cheese or hearty baked ziti dish, especially on a cold winter night? Many types of pasta can be baked, but there are a few important things to keep in mind. First, under-cook the pasta slightly as it is going to cook again in the oven. And don't rinse it after cooking. Second, cook the dish at a high temperature (425 degrees F.) for a short amount of time (generally 20 to 25 minutes) so that the pasta cooks but doesn't dry out. Third, make the sauce fairly thin and don't pack it too full of cheese or the final dish will be dense and stodgy. And finally, feel free to experiment with different pasta shapes than those called for in the recipes -- just stick to the same general shape family. Read on the basic directions that should be used for all of the pastas that follow -- enough recipes that you could eat baked pasta for dinner every night for a month!
Basic Baked Pasta DirectionsPreheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cook the pasta until al dente and drain. Once the pasta and sauce are assembled, place in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or a shallow gratin dish and bake until bubbly, and if crumb topped, the crumbs are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Note: When the recipe calls for 1 pound pasta, that's one pound before cooking.
Basic Baked Pasta SaucesBelow are two sauces that are used in the pasta dishes that follow.
White Sauce (Bechamel): In a medium saucepan, heat 1/3 cup olive oil or butter over medium heat. Whisk in a scant 1/3 cup of all purpose flour and cook 1 minute until flour has absorbed the oil. Gradually whisk in 3 cups milk and cook, whisking constantly until thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and grated nutmeg.
Tomato Sauce (Marinara): In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat. Add 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced and 1 small onion finely chopped and cook until the onion is tender, about 7 minutes. Add 2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes and cook until the sauce is lightly thickened and reduced to 5 cups.
Tomato-Based Baked Pasta RecipesBaked Ziti with Chickpeas: Saute one drained 19-ounce can of chickpeas in olive oil with 2 cloves sliced garlic and one diced red bell pepper until the pepper is tender. Toss into 5 cups of tomato sauce along with a little hot pepper and 1 pound cooked ziti. Spoon into baking dish and top with 1 pound of shredded mozzarella. Bake.
Baked Penne with Ground Lamb: Saute 1 pound ground lamb in just a touch of olive oil until no longer pink. Add 5 cups tomato sauce and season with oregano, mint, salt and pepper. Add 1 pound cooked penne and toss. Layer half the mixture into the baking dish and scatter more mint and a cup of crumbled Feta over the mixture. Spoon remaining mix on top and bake.
Baked Linguine with Bacon and Eggs: Cook 5 strips of bacon until crisp; reserve the bacon fat. Crack 4 large eggs into the skillet and cook until the whites are set. Flip the eggs over and cook until the yolks are almost set, but still a little runny. Break one pound of linguine into thirds, cook and then toss with 5 cups tomato sauce. Layer half into the baking dish and top with the eggs and crumbled bacon. Top with remaining pasta and 1 cup grated ricotta salata. Bake.
Baked Lasagna with Quick Meat Sauce: Saute 1 small onion and 3 cloves sliced garlic, and 1 sliced chorizo in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until the onion is tender. Add 5 cups marinara sauce and simmer 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add 1 pound cooked broken lasagne noodles and toss. Transfer to the baking dish and top with 1 cup of ricotta and 1 cup shredded ricotta salata.
Baked Penne with Olives: Fold 1 cup jarred tapenade (olive spread) into 5 cups tomato sauce. Add 1 pound penne, cooked and toss together. Spoon into the baking dish, top with cheese and bake.
Baked Curried Chicken and Shells: Saute 3 scallions, 2 cloves sliced garlic, and 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger in olive oil until tender. Add 12 ounces thinly sliced skinless, boneless chicken thigh and 1 tablespoon curry powder and toss to coat. Add 1 cup coconut milk and simmer until chicken is cooked through. Stir in 4 cups marinara sauce and 1 pound cooked medium-size shells. Bake until bubbly.
Baked Ziti with Eggplant: Stir 1 cup of canned caponata into 5 cups of marinara sauce. Add 1 teaspoon grated orange zest and 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil. Toss with 1 pound cooked ziti and sprinkle the top with a combo of 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs. Transfer to the baking dish and bake until the crumbs are golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Smoky Chipotle Chile Pasta: Stir 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (to taste) chipotle chile powder, and 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder into 5 cups tomato sauce (taste and adjust seasoning if necessary). Toss with 1 pound cooked ziti, spoon into the baking dish and top with 2 cups crushed tortilla chips, 1 cup shredded Jack cheese and 2 thinly sliced scallions. Bake.
Penne with Ricotta and Meatballs: Toss 1 pound cooked penne with 5 cups marinara sauce. Spoon half into the baking dish and scatter 20 small meatballs over the pasta. Dollop half of a 15 ounce container of ricotta over the mixture and top with the remaining pasta and ricotta and 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan or Grana Padana cheese. Bake 20 minutes or until the top is bubbling and golden brown.
Baked Pasta with Wild Mushrooms: Soak 1/2 cup of dried porcini in 1 1/2 cups hot water for 20 minutes or until tender. Lift them out of the water, rinse and coarsely chop. Strain the water through a fine-meshed sieve, place it in a small saucepan and boil until reduced to 3/4 cup. Add the porcini and 4 cups of tomato sauce and remove from the heat. Saute 8 ounces of shiitake mushroom caps in 1 tablespoon olive oil until tender and add to the sauce. Transfer to a bowl and toss with 1 pound cooked pappardelle. Spoon into the baking dish and top with 3/4 cup grated Parmesan and bake.
Baked Tortellini with Edamame: Toss 2 pounds of cooked cheese tortellini with 5 cups of tomato sauce seasoned with 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 1/2 cups cooked shelled edamame, 2 scallions, thinly sliced, and 1/2 cup chopped cilantro. Spoon into baking dish and bake until bubbly.
Baked Macaroni with Pork, Peppers, and Barbecue Sauce: Combine 3 cups tomato sauce with 2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce. Saute 12 ounces of sliced pork tenderloin in olive oil along with 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips, and 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips. Add 1 cup frozen corn kernels and cook until heated through. Toss with one pound cooked macaroni and the tomato-barbecue sauce and transfer to the baking dish. Scatter 2 cups crumbled cornbread stuffing mix and 1/2 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese over the top and bake.
White Sauce-Based Baked Pasta RecipesBaked Rigatoni with Ham and Fontina: Saute 1/2 pound thinly sliced ham in a little butter until lightly browned. Fold it into the white sauce (bechamel) along with a cup of shredded fontina and 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts. Season with salt. Add 1 pound cooked rigatoni and toss. Spoon into baking dish and bake.
Baked Shells with Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese: Make bechamel and when you remove from the heat, stir in 1 teaspoon dried mustard powder, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne and 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese. Cook 1 pound medium shells and, 3 minutes before they're al dente, add 3 cups of broccoli florets to the pot. Drain both and toss with the cheese sauce. Spoon into baking dish and top with 1 1/2 cups of panko breadcrumbs dotted with 2 tablespoons of butter. Bake.
Baked Fusilli with Lemon-Scented Spinach: Cook 2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach in olive oil until tender; add 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest. Fold spinach into white sauce along with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Add 1 pound cooked fusilli and toss. Spoon into the baking dish; top with 1/2 cup Parmesan and bake.
Baked Pasta with Chicken and Mushrooms: Saute 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces in olive oil until browned and cooked through. Remove from pan and add 1 pound sliced white mushrooms and cook until tender. Add white sauce to the pan along with the chicken, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne and 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Add 1 pound cooked pasta shells and toss. Spoon into the baking dish and top with 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese and 1 cup panko breadcrumbs and bake.
Baked Macaroni with Cabbage and Dill: Saute 1 pound of cabbage in olive oil along with 2 strips of bacon until tender and golden. Add 1/2 cup fresh dill, 1 pound cooked large elbow macaroni, and 1 cup whole milk cottage cheese. Fold in 2 cups white sauce and season with salt and pepper. Spoon into baking dish, sprinkle top with 1 cup panko breadcrumbs and dot with 2 tablespoons butter. Bake.
Baked Pasta with Tuna and Artichoke: Drain one 14-ounce can of artichoke hearts packed in water; cut artichokes into bite-size pieces. Fold 2 cans (6 ounces each) drained tuna (preferably oil-packed) into the white sauce sauce along with the artichoke hearts and season with dried tarragon, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Toss with 1 pound large pasta shells and spoon into the baking dish. Top with crumbled dried canned onion rings.
Baked Penne with Gruyere, Caramelized Onions and Apples: Saute 2 large onions in olive oil until golden brown and tender. Add 1 large apple, peeled and coarsely chopped and cook until the apples are tender; season with salt and rosemary. Fold into the white sauce along with 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese and 1 pound penne, cooked. Transfer to the baking dish and scatter 3/4 cup of panko breadcrumbs or 1 cup of crushed potato chips on top. Bake 20 minutes until crumbs are golden and pasta is hot.
Baked Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce: Heat 2 cups of heavy cream over low heat just until small bubbles appear on the surface. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup fresh or store-bought pesto sauce and 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Stir in 2 cups white sauce. Add 1 pound cooked medium-size pasta shells and toss. Spoon into baking dish and bake.
Baked Rigatoni with Salami and Dried Figs: Add 6 ounces chopped salami and 1 1/2 cups of stemmed and chopped dried figs to one batch of white sauce. Season with fresh pepper and 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary. Toss with 1 pound of cooked rigatoni and bake.
Baked Gnocchi with Meat Sauce: Remove 8 ounces of sweet Italian sausage from their casings and cook in olive oil until no longer pink. Add 4 cups tomato sauce and simmer 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add 1 pound cooked potato gnocchi and toss. Spoon into a baking dish and top with a mixture of 3/4 cup ricotta, 1/2 cup cream cheese, and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan; bake.
Cheese Ravioli with Roasted Asparagus: Toss 1 pound of asparagus cut into 1-inch lengths in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and roast in a 450 degree F. oven until browned and cooked through. Whisk together 2 large eggs, the bechamel, 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 2 pounds of cooked cheese ravioli. Spoon into the baking dish and sprinkle 1/2 cup Parmesan over the top and bake.
Baked Manicotti with Greens: Saute 1 pound of chopped escarole in olive oil with a couple of cloves of sliced garlic until tender. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1 container (15 ounces) of ricotta, 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan, 1/2 cup raisins, salt and freshly ground pepper. Spoon into 8 cooked manicotti shells. Transfer to the baking dish and top with 2 to 3 cups of white sauce and 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan; bake.
Baked Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce: Whisk together 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin pie puree (already seasoned), 2 cups white sauce, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 1/2 cups water, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, and 2 tablespoons chopped jarred mango chutney, 1 teaspoon rubbed sage, and 1/3 cup Grana Padana or Parmesan cheese. Break 1 pound of lasagna noodles into large pieces and cook until al dente. Toss with pumpkin mixture, top with 1/2 cup Grana Padana and bake until bubbly.
Baked Cheese Ravioli with Broccoli Rabe and Sundried Tomatoes: Trim tough ends of broccoli rabe and cut into 1-inch lengths and saute in olive oil until tender. Toss broccoli rabe and 1 cup sliced sundried tomatoes with 4 cups white sauce combined with 1 cup ricotta; season with salt and pepper. Add 2 pounds cooked cheese ravioli and toss. Spoon into baking dish and bake.
Baked Fusilli with Grilled Radicchio and Manchego: Cook 1 pound of radicchio leaves on an oiled grilled pan until lightly charred and tender. Once cooked, shred the radicchio. Stir 1 cup shredded Manchego cheese into the white sauce and season with salt, pepper and oregano. Add the radicchio and 1 pound cooked fusilli to the sauce and toss. Spoon into the baking dish, top with 1 cup panko breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons of butter and bake.
Baked Farfalle with Blue Cheese, Pistachios and Pears: Saute 2 peeled and sliced pears in butter until tender, adding 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar at the end. Toss the pears, 1/2 cup of shelled pistachios, and 1 cup crumbled blue cheese to the white sauce. Toss with 1 pound cooked farfalle and spoon into the baking dish. Bake until piping hot and bubbly.
Baked Shells with Butternut Squash and Red Onions: Saute 1 halved and sliced red onion in olive oil until tender. Add 3 cups diced peeled butternut squash, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons brown sugar and add 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth and cook until the squash is tender. Stir in 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and the white sauce. Toss with 1 pound cooked large pasta shells. Transfer to baking dish and sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and bake.
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More on Pasta and Other Dinner Ideas
- See Gail Simmons demonstrate three pasta recipes, including sausage and arugula manicotti.
- Try Marco Canora's authentic Italian recipes.
- Learn how to cook pasta properly.
- Learn to make pasta dough without a recipe.
- Browse all pasta recipes.
- Learn how to clean your baking dish easily.