Freezer Friendly Baked Penne Pasta Recipe. Easy, kid-friendly dinner idea. Great for large groups too.
- 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) Here is where you can find meat you can trust.
- 1 can (28 ounce size) whole tomatoes, with juice
- 2 cans (14.5 ounce) tomato sauce or marinara sauce
- 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 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
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced onions and garlic and saute for several minutes, or until starting to soften.
- Add ground beef and cook until browned. Drain off fat, leaving a bit behind for flavor and moisture.
- Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.
- After that time, remove 3 to 4 cups of the sauce to a different bowl to cool down.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Begin to boil your pasta. Make sure to undercook it a tad–especially if freezing!
- In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, 2 cups of the grated mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, and a dash of salt and pepper.
- 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.
- Add the cooled meat sauce that you set aside earlier and toss to combine.
- Dump the pasta mixture into a large greased casserole dish or lasagna dish. (I ended up using a 9×13 AND a 9×9 dish to fit all of it!)
- Spoon the remaining sauce over the top, then top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
- Hint: Sprinkle chopped parsley over the pasta before serving!
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).