Pasta night is always popular in our house, but we don’t like to get stuck in a pasta rut when it comes to this go-to ingredient. So we’re always on the lookout for different ways to change up the routine, anything from simple comfort food to something a little more elegant. Pasta bakes are a great way to get something warm and hearty on the table without any extraordinary effort on our part.
For a weeknight meal, we definitely rely on pantry staples to get dinner on the table, so whatever pasta we have on hand will do. For this dish, though, we prefer rotini noodles; the spirals help hold on to the cheese and meat sauce so we get a bite of goodness in each forkful. We’ve got a great homemade marinara recipe, but in a pinch, again pantry staples mean that a good quality jarred marinara is readily available. Now we just add some lean ground beef and cheese, lots and lots of cheese, that gets bubbly brown as it bakes. Out pops a piping hot meal that is comfort food in a casserole dish, and we know everyone will leave the table satisfied.
Cheesy Pasta Bake
65 minutes to prepare serves 6-8
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium yellow or white onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 (24 oz) jar marinara sauce, or 4 cups homemade marinara
- 1 package rotini, 1 pound
- 5 cups shredded Italian cheese blend, separated
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan chese, separated
- 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350º F and coat 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Undercook rotini by 2 minutes (per package instructions). Drain water, reserving 1 cup of pasta water for sauce, and set noodles aside.
- Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onion until translucent, about 3 minutes, then add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute.
- Add ground beef, season with salt and pepper; break meat up with spoon as it browns.
- Stir in sauce and add mushrooms. Reduce heat to medium, and cook an additional 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of pasta water, more if desired, to thin out sauce.
- Pour rotini into baking dish and top with 2 cups mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Top with meat sauce and spread evenly.
- Sprinkle reserved cheeses on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes (start checking at 20 minutes), or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.
- Sprinkle fresh parsley on top as a garnish. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Key Ingredient