Pasta Bake + A Freezer Meal Idea

Next up in our pasta line-up is pasta bake. I love making pasta bake for a few reasons. The first reason is it’s the perfect way to use up leftover pasta! I hate wasting or throwing away food…but I also hate reheated pasta in the microwave – that never goes well. Pasta bake is the answer! It’s also one of my favorite meals to turn into a freezer meal. Whether I make an entire pasta bake for the freezer, or freeze what we didn’t eat from a meal, it’s always in my freezer in one form or another. In fact, I think there are two in there right now!

I’m going to give you my classic pasta bake recipe, but at the end of this post I’ll also include a little “formula” you can use to make any leftover pasta into a pasta bake. It will probably change your life. Just kidding.

Actually I’m not kidding. Food is life changing!

I love this pasta bake recipe because it always turns out great AND it freezes and reheats great. Nothing gets too mushy or too crusty. I also really love the balance in all the flavors and that there isn’t too much of any one thing going on. I really hate when a good pasta bake is totally overloaded with cheese – I like there to be a good balance of everything.

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The biggest trick to a good pasta bake is not overcooking the pasta. You pre-boil the pasta before adding it to the bake ingredients and if it is perfectly done, it will be overdone by the time it comes out of the oven. I cook the pasta just shy of al dente. In Italian, “al dente” literally means “to the tooth” and that term is used in cooking to mean that pasta {or whatever you’re cooking} has a bit of a bite still left to it, it isn’t mushy. That is why normally, when cooking pasta, you cook it until it is al dente, or has a bit of a bite left to it. When making pasta bake, I want it to have quite a bite left to it. And really, the only method I use to tell if pasta is ready is by tasting it. If you like to time your pasta, it will be about half of the normal cooking time.

You can substitute the ricotta cheese for cottage cheese if you’d like, it doesn’t make a huge difference. Or do half and half. Whatever you have in your fridge is fine! I usually always have ricotta on hand, so that is typically what I cook with. Plus cottage cheese grosses Andy out so I avoid cooking with it for his sake 🙂 . But I don’t avoid eating it…ha! And, as always, feel free to substitute the dried herbs with fresh ones, just remember to double the measurements. I usually use fresh when I have them growing in my garden.

If you have leftover sauce {like my Homemade Marinara!} or would just like to use a jarred sauce, feel free to substitute that in place of making the quick sauce in the recipe. Use about 45 ounces total, or about 5 1/4 cups.

Pasta bake recipe plus all the details on how you can turn it into a freezer meal. Also get a little formula for turning any leftover pasta into a bake!

Now the good stuff: Freezer meal ideas! You can assemble this pasta bake and freeze it before baking it. I usually make this whole recipe and divide it into two disposable 8×8 baking pans for our family. You could also make smaller portions in disposable bread pans, probably four of them and freeze those for having single or double serving quick meals. You’d want to thaw them and bake according to the instructions in the recipe {lowering the cooking time for smaller portions} – or you can put a frozen pasta bake in a cold oven, preheat the oven and bake at a 325 degrees F for the first 10 minutes, then up the temperature to 350 degrees F for the rest of the time.

If you made the whole pasta bake but have leftovers, I cut them up into whatever size portions I want after it’s totally cooled, place them on a sheet of foil with the edges turned up, and then in a zip top freezer bag. When you want to bake it, take the pasta bake and foil out, put it in an appropriate sized pan, sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of water, cover with foil, and bake at 350 degrees F until warmed through.

Now, if you have a lot of pasta leftover from a meal, you can easily turn that into a bake. If you had 1/2 a pound of pasta leftover, you could mix it with one egg, 1 cup of ricotta, some parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. Pour it in an 8×8 baking dish, top it with a couple cups of tomato sauce, sprinkle the top with mozzarella and you have yourself a bake! The texture won’t be as good as pasta you planned on turning into a bake, because the pasta will be more cooked, but it is still delicious and a great way to use leftovers. I do this all the time! Try it out and let me know what you think.

Pasta Bake + A Freezer Meal Idea

Yields 6-8 servings

30 minPrep Time

50 minCook Time

1 hr, 20 Total Time

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Ingredients

  • 15 oz container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded or diced whole milk mozzarella
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound pasta of your choice, sort pasta works best
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Start pasta water boiling.
  3. Combine ricotta, eggs, half of the parmesan, half of the mozzarella, cream, cornstarch, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. Boil pasta until just shy of al dente, it should have a bit of a bite to it when tasted. It shouldn't be crunchy, but just starting to soften.
  5. While the pasta cooks, heat oil in a medium saucepan until just shimmering.
  6. Add garlic cloves and cook briefly, about 1 minute.
  7. Add the dried herbs cook another minute.
  8. Add the tomato products and sugar. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
  9. When pasta is ready, add it to the ricotta mixture. Add about 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Stir to combine.
  10. Pour pasta into a 9x13 baking dish.
  11. Pour remaining sauce evenly over the top.
  12. Sprinkle remaining parmesan and mozzarella evenly over the top.
  13. Bake covered with foil for 25 minutes, remove foil and cook uncovered about 25 more minutes until bubbly and cheese is just starting to brown.

Notes

• You can substitute the ricotta cheese for cottage cheese if you'd like, it doesn't make a huge difference. Or do half and half. Whatever you have in your fridge is fine!

• If you like to time your pasta when you cook it, you'll cook it for about half of the cooking time. Tasting it will give you a good idea of how close you are.

• As always, feel free to substitute the dried herbs with fresh ones, just remember to double the measurements.

• If you have leftover sauce {like my Homemade Marinara!} or would just like to use a jarred sauce, feel free to substitute that in place of making the quick sauce in the recipe. Use about 45 ounces total, or about 5 1/4 cups.

• You can assemble this pasta bake and freeze it before baking it. I usually make this whole recipe and divide it into two disposable 8x8 baking pans for our family. You could also make smaller portions in disposable bread pans, probably four of them and freeze those for having single or double serving quick meals. You'd want to thaw them and bake according to the instructions in the recipe {lowering the cooking time for smaller portions} - or you can put a frozen pasta bake in a cold oven, preheat the oven and bake at a 325 degrees F for the first 10 minutes, then up the temperature to 350 degrees F for the rest of the time.

• If you made the whole pasta bake but have leftovers, I cut them up into whatever size portions I want after it's totally cooled, place them on a sheet of foil with the edges turned up, and then in a zip top freezer bag. When you want to bake it, take the pasta bake and foil out, put it in an appropriate sized pan, sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of water, cover with foil, and bake at 350 degrees F until warmed through.

7.6.4
58
http://longbournfarm.com/2016/07/27/pasta-bake-a-freezer-meal-idea/
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Calories
105 cal
Fat
6 g
Carbs
7 g
Protein
5 g


Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info

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