Hearty Baked Penne Pasta {Freezer Meal}


Freezer Friendly Baked Penne Pasta Recipe. Easy, kid-friendly dinner idea. Great for large groups too.

Delicious dinner recipe? Check. Freezer friendly? Check. Makes a lot of leftovers? Check. Approved by all ages in the family? Check. Feeds a large group of people? Check. Easy to make? Check!

I’ve been making this Baked Penne Pasta Recipe for a while now. It’s finally time for me to share it with the world. If any of you dear readers out there embark on making this recipe, the world will be a better place. Share the love and impress your eaters.

Time for some Baked Penne Pasta making. Here’s how you get started: (Printable recipe at the bottom)

To get started with the hearty-gooey-tasty deliciousness, you make the sauce first.

Start by softening up your garlic and diced onion in some olive oil. (PS-here is a little tip on how to dice an onion!) Now add your ground beef and brown it up until there is no pink showing.

Baked Penne Pasta Recipe--Freezer Friendly!

At this point things will start smelling really good and your toddler will begin his attempts to climb up your leg. When he fails, he will likely take any loose fitting pants down with him. Just sayin.

Now that your toddler is occupied watching fire trucks on your iPhone (wait, I’m not supposed to do that before two years old, right?) Well, at least I’m not cooking pantless anymore. I digress.

After meat is browned up, drain off some fat and add in the tomato sauce and tomatoes. You could sub these two for two jars of marinara if you want. Add your salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and anything else you feel it needs.

Now let it simmer on low for about 25-30 minutes. After that, remove 3 to 4 cups of the sauce to a different bowl to cool down. You’ll see why in a bit.

Freezer Friendly Baked Penne Pasta Recipe. Easy, kid-friendly dinner idea. Great for large groups too.

After you get that sauce a-simmerin’, start multitasking. If you need to shred your cheese (here is why you should shred your own cheese by the way) go ahead and do that. You can also start to boil your pasta. Make sure to undercook it a tad. Seriously. If not, you’ll have some funky texture going on after it bakes in the oven.

In another bowl, combine your creamy stuff: ricotta, egg, 2 cups mozzarella, parmesan, salt, and pepper. Give it a good stir. But not TOO good of a stir. Just enough to mix it together, k?

Freezer Friendly Baked Penne Pasta Recipe. Easy, kid-friendly dinner idea. Great for large groups too.

Once pasta is cooked and drained, mix it with your cheese mixture. After the pasta and cheese mixture is combined, add in that cooled pasta sauce I told you about earlier. You did follow my directions, right?!

Once you’ve mixed that together, you have a delicious, gooey mess.

Get. In. My. Mouth.

Freezer Friendly Baked Penne Pasta Recipe. Easy, kid-friendly dinner idea. Great for large groups too.

Pour the pasta into a baking dish. Freezer Friendly Baked Penne Pasta Recipe. Easy, kid-friendly dinner idea. Great for large groups too.

Now top it off with remaining pasta sauce.

Freezer Friendly Baked Penne Pasta Recipe. Easy, kid-friendly dinner idea. Great for large groups too.

Now finish it off with a layer of mozzarella.

Freezer Friendly Baked Penne Pasta Recipe. Easy, kid-friendly dinner idea. Great for large groups too.

If you’re planning on freezing this meal, this is the point in which you put your lid on and freeze it.

What kind of containers do you store freezer meals in?

We highly recommend using a BPA-free container or dish. While it may be easier to buy the disposable Glad ovenware containers, it really makes sense to stock up on some quality, safe dishes that you can bake AND store in. After searching long and hard, I highly recommend using these containers from MightyNest.

Glass Baking Dish with Lid (6 cup)Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 8.26.21 PM

Glass Baking Dish with Lid (3 Quart)

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 8.31.45 PM

Here is a picture of them in use.

Baked Penne Pasta Recipe--Freezer Friendly!-10

A few reasons I like these:

  1. Glass is a natural, non-porous material.
  2. Glass cookware doubles as food storageware.
  3. Glass is easy to clean and dishwasher safe.
  4. The clear lid allows easy visibility to your food.
  5. Because they are oven and microwave proof, you can cook, heat, and store your food all in one dish.
  6. Flat top allows for easy stacking.
  7. They are VERY affordable.

Swing by MightyNest and check these out!

Now back to the recipe…

Either freeze your baked pasta at this point, or….

Baked Penne Pasta Recipe--Freezer Friendly!-9

Bake it!

Freezer Friendly Baked Penne Pasta Recipe. Easy, kid-friendly dinner idea. Great for large groups too.

Let it cool a bit before serving it up.
Freezer Friendly Baked Penne Pasta Recipe. Easy, kid-friendly dinner idea. Great for large groups too.

Goodness. I need to make some more after writing this post.

Freezer Friendly Baked Penne Pasta Recipe. Easy, kid-friendly dinner idea. Great for large groups too.

Here’s the recipe:

5.0 from 1 reviews
Baked Penne Pasta
 
Freezer Friendly Baked Penne Pasta Recipe. Easy, kid-friendly dinner idea. Great for large groups too.
Author:
Serves: 10-12
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds ground beef (or one pound ground beef & one pound Italian sausage)
  • 1 can (28 ounce size) whole tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounce) tomato sauce or marinara sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 16 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 tub (15 ounces) whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1-1/2 pounds mozzarella cheese, grated
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced onions and garlic and saute for several minutes, or until starting to soften.
  2. Add ground beef and cook until browned. Drain off fat, leaving a bit behind for flavor and moisture.
  3. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. After that time, remove 3 to 4 cups of the sauce to a different bowl to cool down.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. Begin to boil your pasta. Make sure to undercook it a tad--especially if freezing!
  7. In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, 2 cups of the grated mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, and a dash of salt and pepper.
  8. Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking. Pour it into the bowl with the cheese mixture and barely mix it together.
  9. Add the cooled meat sauce that you set aside earlier and toss to combine.
  10. Dump the pasta mixture into a large greased casserole dish or lasagna dish. (I ended up using a 9x13 AND a 9x9 dish to fit all of it!)
  11. Spoon the remaining sauce over the top, then top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
  12. Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
  13. Hint: Sprinkle chopped parsley over the pasta before serving!
Notes
Freezer Meal Instructions

To Freeze:
Prepare the casserole up until you are supposed to bake it, but do not bake. Wrap the unbaked pasta tightly before putting in the freezer.

To Prepare:
When ready to cook, thaw in the fridge (may take up to 48 hours) or thaw in the microwave on defrost setting. Bake at 375 degrees according to instructions.
If cooking directly from frozen state, increase baking time by 1 to 1 ½ hours (total baking time of about 2-2 ½ hours).

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Comments

  1. Suzanne says

    What are the instructions for
    Cooking after its been frozen??

  2. Nancy says

    Do you have any nutritional values to your recipes? I’m with Suzanne, what are the instructions for cooking after its been frozen? You give a time, but no temps.

    • Polly says

      Hi Nancy. At this time we don’t provide the exact nutritional information for our recipes. I think there are tools out there to gather this but at the time, we just provide the ingredients and directions. Sorry! I’ve also updated the recipe to clarify freezer cooking instructions. Thanks!

  3. Rebecca says

    Can you please tell me how many servings this makes? Thank you!

  4. Amy J. says

    Can I cook this and then freeze it? I’m supposed to bake and a freeze a meal to have ready to go when called on and am trying to find a good recipe.

    • Rachel says

      This would be better unbaked and then frozen. Some pre-cooked options that might work instead: On-the-Go Chicken Burritos, Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches, Slow Cooker Pot Roast, or any of our soups (my personal favorite is the Tomato Bisque). Hope that helps!

  5. Angie says

    Could this be made a couple days ahead of time, but not frozen? Would the noodles get too mushy if it was refrigerated for 2 days, or so?

    • Rachel says

      Oh yes, that would be fine!

  6. Micheala says

    This was easy as pie and SO DELICIOUS. It took a little time, but wasn’t complicated, and for my small family it made three meals! I feel so productive!! Love love love this.

    • Rachel says

      We LOVE this! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and let us know. So glad you enjoyed it.

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