Quick and Easy Meal Ideas

Cheesy Tomato Pasta Bake: A Comforting Culinary Delight

Indulge in the delectable combination of rich tomato sauce, perfectly cooked pasta, and layers of gooey melted cheese with the Cheesy Tomato Pasta Bake. This comforting and flavorful dish is not only easy to prepare but also a crowd-pleaser that brings smiles to the dining table. Let’s dive into the steps of crafting this culinary masterpiece.


For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes are optional but add a little spiciness.

For the Pasta:

  • 1 pound penne or preferred pasta
  • Salt for boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (to prevent sticking)

For the Cheesy Topping:

  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil or parsley for garnish


1. Prepare the Tomato Sauce:

  1. In a big saucepan set over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
  2. Sauté chopped onions until softened, then add minced garlic and cook until fragrant.
  3. Pour in crushed tomatoes, dried oregano, dried basil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using).
  4. Simmer the sauce for 15-20 minutes, allowing it to thicken and flavors to meld. Adjust seasoning as needed.

2. Cook the Pasta:

  1. Heat a big saucepan of salted water till it boils.
  2. Pasta should be cooked as directed on the package until it is al dente.
  3. Drain and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil to prevent sticking.

3. Combine Pasta and Sauce:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta with the prepared tomato sauce, ensuring an even coating.

4. Create the Cheesy Topping:

  1. In a separate bowl, mix the shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan.
  2. Reserve a portion of the cheese for the final topping.

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5. Assemble the Bake:

  1. Use cooking spray or olive oil to grease a baking dish.
  2. Layer the pasta and sauce mixture, followed by a generous sprinkle of the cheese blend.
  3. Repeat the layers, finishing with a cheese topping.

6. Bake to Perfection:

  1. Place the assembled pasta bake in the preheated oven.
  2. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted, golden brown, and bubbling.

7. Garnish and Serve:

  1. Before serving, let the pasta bake rest for a few minutes.
  2. Garnish with fresh basil or parsley for a touch of color and freshness.

Tips for Culinary Excellence:

  1. Quality Tomatoes:
    • Choose high-quality crushed tomatoes for a rich and flavorful sauce.
  2. Herb Variations:
    • Experiment with a blend of fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, or thyme for added depth.
  3. Cheese Choices:
    • Mix different cheeses like cheddar, fontina, or provolone for a unique flavor profile.
  4. Vegetable Boost:
    • Enhance nutrition by adding sautéed vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, or bell peppers.
  5. Make-Ahead Convenience:
    • Prepare the pasta bake a day in advance and refrigerate. Bake just before serving.
  6. Pair with Greens:
    • Serve alongside a crisp green salad for a balanced meal.
  7. Portion with Precision:
    • Cut and serve in individual portions for a visually appealing presentation.

In Conclusion

The Cheesy Tomato Pasta Bake is a delightful fusion of simplicity and indulgence. Whether for a family dinner or a gathering with friends, this recipe promises a satisfying experience for everyone around the table. So, preheat that oven, gather your ingredients, and relish the joy of creating a Cheesy Tomato Pasta Bake that transforms your mealtime into a celebration of flavors. Buon appetito!

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