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You can never go wrong with a baked pasta in my humble opinion. It feeds a crowd and typically pleases even the pickiest of eaters. Polly makes a phenomenal Hearty Baked Penne Pasta, but I wanted something a little cheaper, a tad lighter, and something I could throw together in minutes. Easy Cheesy Baked Pasta was just that.
With some ricotta, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheeses in the fridge, I came up with this simple and tasty dish. It’s made with whole wheat pasta, your favorite all-natural marinara sauce (mine is Newman’s Own Organic Marinara), and a simple cheese filling. Serve alongside some steamed broccoli and your favorite fruit for a well-rounded and fast weeknight dinner.
Be sure to use your time wisely by doubling the recipe, making two 8×8 casseroles, and freezing one for another dinner later. That’s my kind of freezer cooking! To find 70+ more healthy freezer meal recipes, be sure to check out our index here.
If you plan to freeze one 8×8 dish of this pasta, don’t forget to label it so you know what to do with it later. You can download and print our freezer meal labels right now and then use them again and again!
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- 16 ounces (1 pound) whole wheat penne pasta
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 3 1/2 – 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley and/or basil (I used 2 tablespoons of each), plus more for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, crushed in hand
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 1/2 cups marinara sauce*
*buy two 24-ounce jars at the store so you have enough
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Make It Now:
- Boil Pasta: Cook pasta to al dente, according to directions on the box and drain.
- Prep: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease one 9×13 inch casserole dish (or two 8×8 inch dishes) with cooking spray.
- Make Filling: In a large mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella cheese (reserve the rest), Parmesan cheese, eggs, fresh herbs, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Stir in 2 1/2 cups marinara (reserve the rest) and drained pasta and gently stir everything together.
- Finish Casserole: Add the pasta mixture to the greased casserole dish(es). Spread the remaining 1 cup of marinara sauce over the top and sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2-2 cups mozzarella cheese evenly over that.
- Bake & Serve: Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly on the edges and hot in the middle. Let sit for 5-10 minutes and garnish with lots of fresh chopped herbs.
Freeze For Later: Complete recipe through Step 4, but do not bake. Wrap casserole dish tightly with plastic wrap and a layer of foil (or use an air-tight lid). Freeze.
Prepare From Frozen: Thaw in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Bake as directed. Or, to bake from frozen, cover with foil. Place in cold oven and preheat to 375°. Bake for about 1 hour. Remove foil and bake another 25-30 minutes or until bubbly around the edges and heated through.
What kind of containers do you store freezer meals in?
Want to know what we use to freeze meals like these in? Here are the 5 Best Ways to Package and Freeze Your Food.
If you like this recipe, you’ll also like our Hearty Baked Penne Pasta!