Vegetable Pasta Bake is a comforting dish that embraces resourcefulness and creativity. This culinary creation takes a medley of staples sitting in your pantry or refrigerator such as pasta and frozen vegetables. The pasta is cooked to al dente perfection and combined with a rich tomato sauce infused with aromatic seasonings and vegetables. The shredded cheese is mixed in and added on top, creating a golden, melted crust when baked in the oven. This dish is a testament to the beauty of making something delicious from what’s readily available, resulting in a hearty and flavorful pasta bake that brings warmth to the table and a sense of culinary ingenuity to the palate.
1 pound pasta (such as penne, ziti, bowtie or rigatoni)
3 cups vegetables (a mix of frozen-thawed spinach, broccoli florets, diced red bell pepper, canned sliced mushrooms, olives, or zucchini)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning or dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 (24-ounce) jar marinara
Chopped parsley for garnish, optional
01Heat oven to 400 F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
02Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Boil pasta until just al dente, with a little chew. Drain and rinse; set aside.
03Squeeze water from frozen spinach if using.
04In a large bowl combine the pasta, vegetables, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and olive oil. Then stir in 2½ cups shredded mozzarella.
05Transfer mixture to the baking dish. Pour marinara over the entire dish. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake in oven for 25 minutes. Uncover and top with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Cook another 10 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbling.
06Let casserole sit 10 minutes, then garnish with parsley if desired, and serve hot.