This post is sponsored by Mezzetta. All opinions are my own.
Craving comfort food? Then you’re going to love this crave-worthy Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake … make it tonight!
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Fall is just around the corner, and that makes me so happy. It’s my favorite season, and I’m looking forward to enjoying everything it has to offer!
Pasta is another fave dish in autumn, and I love experimenting with different flavors. And when cold weather finally arrives, there’s nothing better than baked pasta, am I right?
This Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake cured my craving for something rich and delicious, and it’s so easy to make with my secret ingredient!
Vegetable Pasta Bake
During my first year in New York, I remember wondering when fall was finally going to arrive. It stays warm through September here, and it seemed like the leaves were never going to change colors.
When they finally did, I couldn’t believe how beautiful the city looked!
My favorite fall activity is strolling through Central Park with my husband, hot drink in hand, and taking in the vibrant fall colors. And of course, when I return home I love to warm up with something delicious, like this Cheesy Veggie Baked Pasta.
This vegetarian baked pasta recipe is packed with fresh veggies, plenty of ooey gooey cheese, and yummy penne pasta. It’s total comfort food!
How to Make Vegetable Pasta Bake
Pasta is definitely an indulgence, so I filled this easy vegetarian baked pasta with lots of fresh veggies.
This Cheesy Veggie Pasta Bake is simple to prepare, and I have a secret for cutting down on prep time in baked pasta recipes. Instead of making my own sauce, I use a ready-made tomato basil (or marinara) pasta sauce!
I’m all for cooking from scratch, but a delicious jarred pasta sauce will add a ton of flavor to your finished baked pasta … without a lot of extra ingredients (or time).
To choose the best sauce, look for one with a small, easily decipherable ingredient list. I used Mezzetta sauce for this recipe, but I also really like Barilla Tomato Basil, which may be easier to find. Want to make this vegetarian pasta recipe completely from scratch? Use a can of crushed tomatoes instead.
Preparing the Veggies + Sauce
Now that you’ve chosen your sauce, let’s start cooking!
You’re going to start by sauteing peppers and onions over medium-high heat just until they start to brown. The high heat will cook your veggies quickly, and the browned bits will add extra flavor.
Add the mushrooms next, cooking until browned. Then add the yellow squash (zucchini works, too) and frying just until browned … don’t overcook, unless you like mushy squash!
The pasta sauce comes next … stir it into your vegetables and cook until hot. You’ll finish the sauce by stirring in spinach just until wildted, along with fresh basil for extra flavor.
By the way, this Vegetable Pasta Bake is easy to customize with your favorite veggies and herbs. It would even be delicious with some feta, artichokes or olives thrown in.
Assembling the Baked Pasta
Remove the finished sauce from heat, then stir the pasta (which you’ll have cooked until al dente). I used penne, but ziti or another tubular pasta would work, too.
You’ll also add some cheese, of course! I like mozzarella for this easy pasta bake, but an Italian blend would also be delish.
Transfer the pasta to a baking dish, then top with more cheese … yum!
To hold all that pasta, you’ll need a 13 x 9-inch baking pan (I have + love this nonstick one) or another large baking dish, like the stoneware dish I used for these pics.
Once your pasta is assembled, you’ll bake it until everything is hot and the cheese is melted and lightly browned. It should only take about 15 to 20 minutes, since everything is already warm.
Okay, who is hungry?
Just look at all those fresh veggies, pasta, and cheese … suddenly, I’m starving!
So what are you waiting for? Make this vegetarian Baked Pasta tonight … it’s a meal your whole family will love digging into!
This Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake is total comfort food ... make it tonight!
- nonstick spray
- 1 (16-ounce) box penne pasta
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 8 ounces brown mushrooms, sliced
- 1 yellow squash, quartered and sliced (or zucchini)
- 1 (25-ounce) jar pasta sauce (tomato basil or marinara)
- 1 (6-ounce) package baby spinach, roughly chopped
- handful basil leaves
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large baking dish with nonstick spray.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add penne and cook until al dente. Do not overcook.
Drain pasta and set aside until sauce is ready.
While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.
Add onions and bell pepper to oil; cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown.
Stir mushrooms into pan and saute until they begin to brown, stirring often.
Add squash to pan and cook until lightly browned, stirring frequently.
Season veggies to taste with salt, then reduce heat to medium and allow pan to cool slightly.
Mix pasta sauce into vegetables and cook until hot, stirring frequently.
Add spinach and cook until wilted, stirring constantly.
Tear basil into pieces and stir into sauce. Remove sauce from heat.
Stir pasta into sauce, then mix in 1 1/2 cups of the cheese.
Transfer pasta to baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Bake pasta for 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and pasta is hot.
Serve pasta immediately, topped with additional fresh basil, if desired. Enjoy!
If you'd like to cook the sauce completely from scratch, substitute a large can of crushed tomatoes for the premade sauce. You'll also want to add some garlic and spices (like basil, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, etc.) to flavor the sauce. Add the garlic to the cooked yellow squash, then stir constantly for about a minute or so, or until the garlic is fragrant. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and spices, then simmer until flavors blend. Finish the recipe as directed.
Loved this Vegetarian Baked Pasta?
If you enjoyed this yummy baked pasta, then you’ll like these other vegetarian pasta recipes, too!
- Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese
- Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Shells
- Pasta Primavera with Roasted Vegetables
- Easy One Pot Pasta
- Baked Polenta with Veggie Marinara
What is your favorite fall meal?