Easy Italian Pasta Bake

It almost seems silly to even call this a recipe.  It’s basically a “cook some noodles in spaghetti sauce, add meat, top with cheese” kind of idea.  Goulash in a casserole dish.  Spaghetti with different noodles and turned into a casserole.  Ah, but instead of letting you know all of that, I’ll act like it’s a fancy dish called…Italian Pasta Bake.

You’re impressed, aren’t you?

Ah well…simple recipes are what I do best.  They’re what my family likes best and they’re easy to make.  This recipe also freezes well and is easy to make for company.

Italian Pasta Bake

1 pound ground beef or turkey
1/4 cup chopped onion or 3 Tablespoons dry minced onion
4 cups tomato sauce
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons basil
1 Tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder or one clove fresh garlic
Sea salt to taste
10 ounces whole wheat pasta, any shape (we like bionature brand)
2 cups shredded cheese (we use white cheddar, but you can use mozzarella or any combination of your favorite cheeses)

Brown meat and onion together.  Meanwhile, bring tomato sauce, water and herbs and spices to a boil.  Stir in pasta and boil until tender.  Do not drain.  The pasta should have absorbed the liquid!  Mix in cooked meat.  Salt as desired.  Spread mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish and top with cheese.  Bake uncovered at 350° for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through and through.

So, do you have a favorite pasta shape?  I think picking the shape of pasta for our dinner is kinda fun.  Penne, Fusilli, Rotini, even good ol’ Elbow.  

Ah the joy of picking pasta shapes.  Am I the only one who thinks this is fun?

Grocery List

Like This? Bless Others By Sharing!
Share on Facebook63Pin on Pinterest2,547Tweet about this on Twitter2Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn1Print this page

Comments

  1. Paula says

    You could hide some white navy beans in there too for extra lean protein/fiber. Also, I recently tried cooking my noodles in the sauce and the liquid did not absorb so much. I thought it was my whole wheat noodles (the recipe called for regular pasta noodles) but I see that is what you use.

    [Reply]

  2. Becky says

    This recipe was delicious! My two year old daughter had four helpings and my seven year old son had three helpings! Loved it! Also, shared the leftovers with my staff the next day!

    [Reply]

  3. Irene says

    Try adding ricotta mixed with one beaten egg, parmesan, fresh italian parsley, salt and pepper. Stir it into the pasta before you bake it. Then, add the mozzarella on top. I’m 100% Italian and this is how we’ve been making this recipe for years.

    [Reply]

    Michelle Reply:

    What are your measurements for the added ingredients?

    [Reply]

  4. Jackie says

    If I wanted to make this ahead of time and freeze it, do you recommend just getting it all prepared. Then freezing instead of baking for 20 minutes, and then defrosting and baking? Or would you bake it ahead of time, then freeze it and heat it up?

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’d say freeze before you bake, defrost, then bake.

    [Reply]

  5. Kristen B. says

    Just tried making this tonight for a family full of picky eaters and it was a HUGE hit!!! I am SO excited to try more recipes!! Thank you for sharing all your lovely creations!

    [Reply]

  6. says

    I tried making it but the pasta got a bit burnt on the bottom before the pasta on top got cooked all the way through – did this happen to you? How did you keep the pasta from sticking? Thanks so much for this recipe!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’ve never had this trouble…you may need to cook it at a lower temperature next time? You could also butter your pan to keep your pasta from sticking.

    [Reply]

    rona Reply:

    This is Baked Ziti. Cover with tin foil, and bake. Remove tin foil last 15 minutes and add mozzarella to melt on the top. TIP: Before putting tin foil on spray with cooking spray so taht the sauce does not “eat” into the tin foil.

    [Reply]

    Gina Reply:

    I tried to reply here so you could read it Jackie H . . . See my post below. I had the same problem!

    [Reply]

    Jackie H Reply:

    Thanks, Gina & Laura!

    [Reply]

  7. darialauren says

    i wonder could you use leftover chicken parmesan cut up into the pasta instead of ground beef/turkey??

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Sure, chicken parmesan in this recipe sounds delicious!

    [Reply]

  8. Gina says

    I had it happen each time I made it so I just wound up adding an extra cup of water and it helped a little. It still stuck some but it didn’t burn with the extra water. Maybe its the past we are using. It seems to take quite a while for mine to cook and the water seems to evaporate before its done. It still turns out great, my picky-eaters love it.

    [Reply]

  9. laura says

    My family loved this recipe. I doubled it and put one in the freezer. So glad I did. Looking forward to having it again. I love all your recipes. Made the corndogs the other day and planning on making your Honey Whole Wheat Bread next. I’ve made a ton of them and we’ve loved them all so far.

    [Reply]

    Abbey Reply:

    The honey whole wheat bread is the BEST! I’ve stopped buying bread and have been baking this every week! We made the italian pasta bake tonight and added a mish mash of veggies we had laying around – spinach, mushrooms, peppers, etc. It was delicious! So glad I found this blog Laura!

    [Reply]

  10. Ceyla says

    Good recipe, Laura! I’ve made this for years and had the problem of the pasta burning, so I cooked the pasta for 3/5 minutes first and then added it. Also, I buttered the pan very well. When I have left over veggies or am cleaning out the freezer, I add either green beans, peas or corn.
    Ceyla

    [Reply]

  11. gillian says

    My three extremely picky kids all said that this was the best dinner that they had ever eaten—Thank you!!!

    [Reply]

  12. terri says

    I put whichever noodles I have and a jar of favorite sauce in a pan the night before, put in fridge and the next day top with cheese, mushrooms, olives and bake, no need to boil pasta.

    [Reply]

    Steph (The Cheapskate Cook) Reply:

    Woah! What a great idea!! Especially in the heat of summer when cooking anything cranks up the temperature of the kitchen.

    [Reply]

  13. Leeann says

    To keep the noodles from sticking/ my daughter in law uses a capful of olive oil in the pasta water. It might help with the burning.

    [Reply]

  14. Susan Alexander says

    Confused on the “tomato sauce” – can this be plain tomato sauce (like from a can) or does it really need to be seasoned sauce (like what you’d add meat to for spaghetti)?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    This is the plain tomato sauce, then you add the other seasonings mentioned in the recipe. :)

    [Reply]

    Susan Alexander Reply:

    Wonderful as I don’t buy the jarred stuff and this recipe is so easy I wouldn’t want to take the time to make the real seasoned sauce! :)

    [Reply]

  15. Stacy says

    I have never cooked my pasta in the sauce and water. REALLY excited to try this one!!!! You are just using plain tomato sauce from cans, not like a Ragu or Prego

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, just plain tomato sauce, then I add my own herbs and spices (just the ones described in the recipe).

    [Reply]

  16. Susan Alexander says

    Ok, made this for dinner and we LOVED it. I made a few very small changes. I had underestimated how much sauce to buy and only bought one large can of sauce. So, I improvised with a can of diced tomatoes which turned out great. Next time, however, I will dial back the sauce to a medium-sized can because it was just a little too saucy after all. LOL

    I added roughly 1/2-1 tsp sucanat because I find that really brings out the flavor of tomato sauce. Next time I will add a little pepper too. I also always brown my beef, then add the onion and brown. I doubled to two cloves of garlic and browned that in with the onion.

    I also did a little thinking and realized I can brown the beef in my large cast iron pan and then pour the sauce/noodle mixture in and then I can stick the whole thing in the oven and save a pan! ;)

    Thanks for this yummy recipe! Oh and next time we’re going to try an italian sausage instead of ground beef…

    [Reply]

  17. katherine jenson says

    I am going to make this and use either quinoa or whole wheat pasta. Then freeze for lunches to take to work or a fast dinner! What a nice recipe!

    [Reply]

  18. Erin says

    This is one of my family’s favorite dishes! But I don’t bother to cook the pasta/sauce on the stove-top beforehand because I have an aversion to extra dirty dishes :) I put the uncooked pasta in the baking dish, cover it with the meat-sauce mixture and raise the oven temperature up to 375 to make up for the difference. Works great and less kitchen mess! What’s not to love?

    [Reply]

    Erin Reply:

    Oops! I meant 400 degrees, not 375 :)

    [Reply]

    Myra Reply:

    Erin, do you cover the pan while baking? Great idea! I have to try it!

    [Reply]

  19. sheri says

    I don’t do the pasta like that, but have made this for years. One thing i like to do is add some El pato sauce (mexican tomato sauce). Add to taste, it is spicy.

    [Reply]

  20. Kristin says

    Was looking for a new “spaghetti” recipe to help mix it up a little. Can’t wait to try it and let you know how much my family loved it!!!!

    [Reply]

  21. Angela H. says

    I need to make this for 50 people….Please help.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Depending on what you’re serving with this, you might want to plan to make 4 of these. Or, I’d make five if you are serving very few sides.

    [Reply]

  22. Cheri says

    Any suggestions on the adjustments to this recipe if I wanted to leave out the meat? Thanks!!

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    No need to adjust anything, just leave out the meat!

    [Reply]

  23. Lila says

    I am fascinated by the science of 10 ounces of pasta absorbing 6 cups of liquid so I must make this just to see it done ! And the next time I spill hot water on the floor, I am going to forego the mop and throw a box of pasta down instead. :-)

    [Reply]

  24. Mary says

    I originally asked for meals for 20 people and this website came up…I click on the Italian Pasta Bake…but it looks like it is only for a new…meat is 1lb….Can you tell me how to increase ingredients for 20 people…thanks

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I would triple this recipe for 20 people. :)

    [Reply]

  25. Marisa B. says

    How many cups is 10 oz of pasta? I have some penne in a large storage container with no packaging!!

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    I think 8 oz is about 2 cups so maybe about a 2 1/4 cups???

    [Reply]

  26. Marisa B. says

    Well, I was making it right away so I just eye-balled it. Four cups dry penne seemed about right. Hope that helps someone else!

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *