How to Make a Pasta Bake

Two Methods:Making a Vegetarian Pasta BakeMaking a Ground Beef Pasta Bake

Ever wanted to make a delicious baked pasta dish? There are lots of ways of making one, but the most popular recipes involve a tomato-based pasta sauce and lots of cheese. Whichever version you choose to make, it is both easy and delicious. There is a trick to getting just right, however!

Ingredients

Vegetarian Pasta Bake[1]

  • 16 ounces (450 grams) uncooked pasta (such as penne, rotini, or rigatoni)
  • 4 cups (950 milliliters) marinara sauce (homemade or purchased)
  • ½ cup (50 grams) Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 15 ounces (450 grams) ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups (200 grams) mozzarella cheese, shredded

Makes 10 servings

Ground Beef Pasta Bake[2]

  • 16 ounces (450 grams) uncooked pasta (such as penne, rotini, or rigatoni)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound (450 grams) lean ground beef
  • 26 ounces (770 milliliters) spaghetti sauce
  • 6 ounces (180 grams) provolone cheese, sliced
  • 1½ cups (375 grams) sour cream
  • 6 ounces (180 grams) mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) Parmesan cheese, grated

Makes 10 servings



Method 1
Making a Vegetarian Pasta Bake

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    Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
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    Cook the pasta in salted water for 3 minutes less than the recommended time, then drain it and set it aside. You are under-cooking the pasta because it will finish cooking in the oven.[3]
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    Pour half of the marinara sauce and half of the pasta into a lightly-greased casserole dish. Gently toss the two together until the pasta is evenly coated. Set the rest of the pasta and sauce aside; you will be using them in another layer.
    • Use a 3-quart (2.8 liters) casserole dish.
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    Start layering the cheese on top. Start with ¼ cup (25 grams) of Parmesan cheese, then half of the ricotta cheese. Add 1 cup (100 grams) of the mozzarella cheese.
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    Repeat the pasta, sauce, and cheese layers. Mix the rest of the pasta and marinara sauce, and add it to the casserole dish. Sprinkle rest of the Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese on top.
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    Cover the dish lightly with tin foil and bake it for 35 minutes. Make sure that the foil is not touching the cheese.
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    Bake uncovered for another 10 to 15 minutes. The center should be bubbly and heated through. If you want to get a nice, crispy layer on top, place your dish under the broiler (uncovered) until the top turns golden brown, about 4 minutes.[4]
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    Remove the dish from the oven, and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.[5] This resting time not only allows the dish to cool enough to eat, but also for the sauce to settle into all of the nooks and crannies.[6]
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    Finished.

Method 2
Making a Ground Beef Pasta Bake

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    1
    Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
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    Cook the pasta in salted water for 3 minutes less than the recommended time, then drain it and set it aside. You are under-cooking the pasta because it will finish cooking in the oven.
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    Brown the onion and ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. Make sure that the skillet is large enough to hold the spaghetti sauce , which you will be adding later. Stir the onion and ground beef occasionally with a spatula so that they cook evenly.
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    Add the spaghetti sauce and let it simmer for 15 minutes. This will help the flavors mix and blend together. Stir occasionally so that everything cooks evenly.
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    Add half of the pasta, Provolone cheese, and sour cream into a greased baking dish. Use a spatula to spread the pasta across the bottom of the dish in a even layer, then lay all of the Provolone slices on top. Spread the sour cream on top of the Provolone cheese. You will add the rest of the pasta in another layer.
    • Use a 9 by 13 inch (22.86 by 33.02 centimeters) baking dish.
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    Spread half of the sauce mixture on top of the sour cream. Try to spread it as evenly as possible. You are only using half now, because you will be adding the rest of it in another layer.
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    Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella cheese, and sauce mixture. Spread the pasta across the sauce mixture first, then add the mozzarella cheese. Try to spread everything as evenly as possible. Finish off with the rest of the sauce mixture.
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    Top the dish with grated Parmesan cheese. This will be your finishing touch, and help create that final, crispy layer.
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    Bake for 30, or until cheeses are melted. If you want to get that nice, crispy layer on top, place your dish under the broiler until the cheese turns golden. This will take about 4 minutes.[7]
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    Remove the dish from the oven, and let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. This also allows the sauce to settle into all of the nooks and crannies of the pasta.
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    Finished.

Tips

  • Avoid smooth pastas, such as ziti—it won't hold all of the goodies. Instead, try pasta with lots of grooves, nooks, and crannies, such as: rigatoni, riccioli, or rocchetti.[8]
  • Undercook the pasta. The hot sauce and heat of the oven will cook it the rest of the way.
  • To get that nice, crispy top, put the casserole under a broiler until the top is golden, about 4 minutes.
  • Let the casserole rest 5 to 10 min. This allows the sauce to settle, and the casserole to cool down a little
  • Use olive oil while boiling the pasta if you think the water might boil over. This does not change the taste and it will reduce the risk of your water boiling over.
  • Always use oven mitts while taking baking dish out of the oven.
  • Try adding other ingredients into the sauce, such as broccoli florets or sliced mushrooms!

Things You'll Need

Vegetarian Pasta Bake

  • Medium sized pot
  • Colander (strainer)
  • Large spoon
  • 3-quart (2.8 liters) casserole dish

Ground Beef Pasta Bake

  • Medium sized pot
  • Colander (strainer)
  • Large skillet
  • Spatula
  • 9 by 13 inch (22.86 by 33.02 centimeters) baking dish

Article Info

Categories: Pasta and Noodles