Yes, we know that baked pasta is a cheap trick: there’s no way that carbs covered in sauce and cheese aren’t going to be delicious. But it’s a great standby and if you’re looking to feed a lot of people (especially on a budget) it’s a great option and is also excellent for potlucks. Check out these 9 recipes for baked pasta that will make you stock the pantry with penne.
1. Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables
Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe for baked penne is long on vegetables, including red peppers, zucchini, summer squash, cremini mushrooms, peas, and onions. It’s like a salad and pasta bake in one – substitute any of your favorite seasonably available produce for a delightful dinner. Get the recipe here.
2. Cheesy Pesto and Chicken Bake
If you’ve got thirty minutes, then you’ve got a fabulous dinner with this recipe for a cheesy pesto and chicken bake. You can substitute any kind of protein (chicken sausage would be especially delicious) and experiment with your favorite types of cheese as well. Get the recipe here.
3. Baked Penne with Sausage and Creamy Ricotta
A pound of Italian sausage, three cups of creamy ricotta, a half-pound of fresh mozzarella, and some Parmesan cheese make this an incredibly decadent baked pasta dish that will please even the most discerning of palates. Get the recipe here.
4. Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti
With only six ingredients, this is a simple recipe meant for sharing with a crowd. Top with freshly grated Parmesan and fresh basil for an extra special touch. Get the recipe here.
5. Baked Penne Pasta with Spinach and Feta
Make sure to cook the pasta al dente so that it doesn’t get to mushy in this spinach and feta baked pasta dish. You can use more plain yogurt than crème fraiche or sour cream if you want to make it a little bit healthier (but where’s the fun in that?). Get our Baked Penne Pasta with Spinach and Feta recipe.
6. Baked Penne with Lamb, Eggplant, and Fontina
Ground lamb and eggplant add rich Mediterranean flavors to this traditional pasta bake. Bechamel sauce makes it extra creamy and the fontina cheese makes a golden layer of crunchy goodness when broiled. Get the recipe here.
7. Healthy Mushroom Alfredo Pasta Bake
Whole-wheat penne and an entire head of cauliflower make this creamy pasta bake a little bit healthier. Gruyere, fresh sage, garlic, and sautéed mushrooms add a ton of flavor and you can throw in caramelized onions, bacon, or sausage to make it extra umami. Get the recipe here.
8. Vegan Penne Pasta Casserole
If you’re looking for a baked pasta recipe that isn’t packed with dairy, this is a great place to start. Roasted tomatoes, red onion, garlic, and baby spinach are all in the mix, making this healthy pasta bake packed with far more vegetables than it is carbs. Get the recipe here.
9. Skinny Shrimp Alfredo Pasta Bake
This alfredo sauce is made from evaporated milk, light cream cheese, butter, garlic, chicken broth, and a little bit of flour to thicken it – cutting way down on the calories and packing the same signature taste. Roast the shrimp with salt and pepper and kick up the heat with some crushed red pepper flakes if you’re interested. Get the recipe here.
Header image: Baked Penne Pasta with Spinach and Feta from Chowhound
Caitlin M. O'Shaughnessy is a New York City–based food writer and editor at Penguin who has worked on and recipe-tested several cookbooks. She is currently in search of NYC's best ramen, and is one of the few people who admit to disliking brunch.