With so much of our time taken up by work, carpools, and extra activities, we are always on the hunt for easy weeknight meals. But so you don’t get stuck with the same dishes set on repeat throughout the week, the Cook editors at The Daily Meal want to introduce new quick and easy recipes for your rotation. Pasta bakes are a weeknight essential. They incorporate meats, vegetables, and cheese, which make them hearty and satisfying. And the best part is that they are even more delicious as leftovers when the flavors have additional time to meld.
All of the recipes featured can be made at home for about $20 or less, excluding the cost of small amounts of basic ingredients such as butter, oil, flour, sugar, salt, pepper, and other dried herbs and spices.
With the simplicity and deliciousness that baked pasta recipes offer, this week we put the Culinary Content Network and our staff to the test to come up with tasty baked pasta recipes that are anything but ordinary. Here are some of the highlights:
Butternut Squash and Bacon Pasta Recipe
Add some bacon and winter squash to your baked pasta dish for a new and tasty twist.
Butternut Squash + Bacon Pasta
adapted from Cooking Light magazine
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
- 6 sweet hickory-smoked bacon slices (raw)
- 1 cup thinly sliced onions
- 8 ounces uncooked penne
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups skim milk
- 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, rosemary, and pepper. Place squash on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray (don’t forget the cooking spray like me, haha); sprinkle with salt mixture. Bake at 425° for 45 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Increase oven temperature to 450°.
- Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 1/2 teaspoons drippings in pan; crumble bacon. Increase heat to medium-high. Add onions to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until tender. Combine squash mixture, bacon, and onions; set aside.
- Cook pasta according to the package directions, drain well.
- Combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add mozzarella, stirring until cheese melts. Add pasta to cheese mixture, tossing well to combine. Spoon pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray; top with squash mixture. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.
Baked Ham Penne Pasta Recipe
Use leftover ham in this easy baked ham penne pasta recipe.
Creamy garlic pasta with ham and cheese baked to perfection. Sounds good, doesn’t it? It’s pretty simple too. You can make it ahead, refrigerate it, and pop it in the oven when you’re ready. This is a great way to use up leftover ham. I always love pasta with ham and this is a tasty alternative to ham and potato casserole.
Baked Ham Penne Pasta
16 oz penne pasta
2 cups ham, chopped into small bite size pieces
4 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
1 cup sour cream
3 green onions, chopped
1 roasted red pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Cook penne in boiling water until it just starts to get tender, about half way and drain. (The pasta will continue to cook in the oven.) In a dutch oven, or pan that you cooked the pasta in, melt butter. Add green onion, garlic, and red pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, add flour and stir well and cook additional 2 to 3 minutes. Add milk, half and half and half of shredded cheese. Cook, stirring constantly over medium high heat until sauce becomes thick and bubbly. Remove from heat, stir in sour cream until well combined. Add ham and pasta, stirring until pasta is well coated with sauce. Pour into an oven safe baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until cheese starts to brown. Serve with warm crusty bread.
Easy One-Skillet Lasagna Recipe
This recipe couldn’t get much easier. The dish is cooked in one skillet for easy cooking and clean-up.
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 c. diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. Italian seasoning
2 (15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, undrained (I like to use the tomatoes with onion and garlic)
15 oz. tomato sauce
1 c. water
10 oz. wide egg noodles
4 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
2 c. shredded Italian cheese blend
- In a large skillet, brown ground beef over medium-low heat.
- Drain grease from ground beef, and return it to the skillet.
- Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and Italian seasoning, and cook for 30 seconds.
- Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, and egg noodles.
- Cook, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes, or until noodles are al dente.
- Stir in ricotta, and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove from heat, and top with Italian cheese blend.
- Let the lasagna sit for about 5 minutes for cheese to melt. If I already have the oven on, I just pop the pan in (make sure it’s oven safe first, though) and let the cheese melt. It takes about 3-4 minutes.
Finnish Macaroni Casserole (Makaronilaatikko) Recipe
This hearty macaroni casserole is easy to make and very family-friendly. Prepare it the night before and reheat in the owen for a quick, weeknight meal.
- 2 cups cooked macaroni
- 3/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cups milk
- 3 eggs
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of pepper
Heat oil in skillet and brown the ground beef with the chopped onion. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease or spray oil in an ovenproof casserole dish. Add the cooked macaroni and meat/onion mixture. Whisk together milk and eggs; add about half of the cheese. Pour the mixture over the macaroni and meat in the casserole. Top with the remaining cheese and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and the casserole is heated throughout.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Crumbled Bacon Recipe
Add a salty flavor to your macaroni and cheese with this recipe that adds crumbled bacon to a classic pasta dish.
4 cups rotini or curly pasta
1/2 cup cooked bacon, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the dry elbow pasta in a pot for about 10 minutes or until soft. Pour the cooked pasta in a baking pan. Sprinkle cheese and cooked bacon over the pasta. Place the pasta in the oven, and cook for about 45 minutes or until the pasta is crispy. Once ready, remove the pasta from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
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