Cheesy Pasta Bake

Can a person have too many pasta recipes? Possibly, especially if you’re on a budget. It’s almost too easy to turn to pasta dishes, so when I do make one, I try to make it the best! You’ll love this warm and comforting dish loaded with fresh mozzarella, Italian sausage and for a healthier twist, ground chicken or turkey. Use ground beef if you’d rather, though.

Cheesy Pasta Bake
Cheesy Pasta Bake

One of my basic pantry pasta recipes, Baked Ziti, has been on my blog for ages and you’ll find all kinds of tips and hints on the buying and pricing of ingredients and on how to cook recipes like this perfectly.

The key to a really great pasta bake is to cook the noodles to just the right stage, al dente but on the firmer side of it, assemble quickly and get it in the oven with everything still hot. Then cook it the shortest time possible to heat through and melt the cheese. Pull it out when it reaches bubbly perfection!!

Cheesy Pasta Bake
Cheesy Pasta Bake

Do any of you ever grind your own turkey or chicken for recipes? I’ve heard so many horror stories about some of these ground products, I often chunk up sale priced chicken breast and pulse it in the food processor – I know it’s fresh and clean and it’s usually cheaper than the stuff you can buy. Admittedly, I can be a bit freakish about food safety! You can make this recipe with ground beef, too.

If you use a jarred pasta, you’ll need two jars and you’ll have a bit leftover so keep in mind a way to use that up. You can always freeze it or use it as a dipping sauce or a sauce for pizza. The sauce you use will make a difference and while I try not to be brand loyal, if I don’t use my own I use Emeril’s Chunky Marinara. And of course, you can never go wrong with adding in more veggies to this dish if you’d like! I often saute up a bell pepper or two with the onions.

If you have a smaller family, think about dividing this into two pans and freezing one for later.

Cheesy Pasta Bake
Cheesy Pasta Bake

Cheesy Pasta Bake

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 14 ounces uncooked ziti, penne or mostaccioli
  • 12 ounces ground turkey, chicken or beef
  • 8 ounces bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 5 cups marinara sauce, home-made or jarred
  • 6 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. As you begin to prepare the rest of ingredients, cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain and set aside.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sausage and turkey (or chicken or beef) mixture to pan; cook until browned, stirring to crumble. If mixture sticks to pan, add a little bit of water but be sure to cook until the water evaporates. Remove from pan. Drain fat if necessary.

Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and sauté until onion is tender. Add the garlic, basil and red pepper and saute for a minute or two longer.

Add wine, scraping the pan to loosen browned bits, and cook until liquid almost evaporates. Remove from heat and stir in pasta, turkey mixture, and marinara sauce. Spoon mixture into a 13 x 9–inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly and cheese melts and begins to brown. Remove from oven.

From the kitchen of http://www.frugalhausfrau.com, adapted from Cooking Light

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You know I’ll be bringing this to our Throwback Thursday #25 Link Party, hosted by Quinn of Dad What’s for Dinner, Meaghan of 4 Sons are Us, Alli of Tornadough, and Moi! That’s right – me!

Click over to our Throwback Thursday post for links to their blogs and social media, rules and more info or just click on the blue leapfrog, below, to view all the Throwback Thursday Posts or enter your own!

I will also be bringing these over to Angie’s Link Party, Fiesta Friday # 106, Hosted this week, by Stefi from Ginger & Bread and Andrea from Cooking with a Wallflower! It should be another great party!!

23 thoughts on “Cheesy Pasta Bake”

  1. This looks wonderfully cheesy!
    I do make my own chicken mince sometimes and it always tastes better! Chicken mince is virtually impossible to get but like you I am happier making my own. 🙂

  2. Looks so super cheesy! And warm and comforting 🙂 I always use ground turkey instead of beef and I love that this can be doctored up with plenty of veggies (especially leftover scraps in the fridge!) – can’t wait to give it a try!

    1. Thanks! I often sneak in extra veggies and it’s become a bit of a tradition to saute up some slices of pepper and onion and extra Italian sausage when I make this and then make Italian Sausage sandwiches the next day with the bit of extra sauce.

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