Quick and Easy Meal Ideas

Cheesy Tomato Pasta Bake: A Comforting Culinary Symphony

Cheesy Tomato Pasta Bake: A Comforting Culinary Symphony

Delight your taste buds with the heartwarming and savory notes of a Cheesy Tomato Pasta Bake. This recipe combines the rich flavors of ripe tomatoes, aromatic herbs, and the comforting embrace of gooey melted cheese. Let’s dive into the steps of creating a culinary masterpiece that brings both joy and satisfaction to the table.


For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes (optional for a hint of spice)

For the Pasta:

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

For the Cheesy Topping:

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

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1. Prepare the Tomato Sauce:

  1. Olive oil should be heated over medium heat in a big saucepan.
  2. Add the chopped onion and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until softened.
  3. Stir in minced garlic and cook for an additional minute until fragrant.
  4. Pour in crushed tomatoes, dried oregano, dried basil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using).
  5. Simmer the sauce for 15-20 minutes, allowing flavors to meld. Adjust seasoning to taste.

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 the pasta and toss it with a tablespoon of olive oil to prevent sticking.

3. Combine Pasta and Sauce:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta with the prepared tomato sauce.
  3. Ensure the pasta is evenly coated with the flavorful sauce.

4. Create the Cheesy Topping:

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

5. Assemble the Bake:

  1. Use cooking spray or olive oil to grease a baking dish.
  2. Start by layering a portion of the pasta and sauce mixture.
  3. Sprinkle a generous layer of the cheese blend.
  4. Repeat the layers until you reach the top, finishing with a cheese layer.

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 and bubbly with a golden brown hue.

7. Garnish and Serve:

  1. Once out of the oven, let the pasta bake rest for a few minutes.
  2. Add some fresh parsley or basil as a garnish for a pop of color and freshness.

Tips for Culinary Bliss:

  1. Select Quality Tomatoes:
    • Opt for high-quality crushed tomatoes for a rich and flavorful sauce.
  2. Customize Herb Blend:
    • Experiment with a blend of fresh herbs like basil, oregano, and thyme for added depth.
  3. Try Different Cheeses:
    • Mix and match cheeses like cheddar, fontina, or provolone for a unique flavor profile.
  4. Add Vegetables:
    • Enhance the nutritional value by adding sautéed vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, or bell peppers.
  5. Make It Ahead:
    • Prepare the pasta bake a day in advance and refrigerate. Bake it just before serving.
  6. Serve with a Side Salad:
    • Accompany the pasta bake with a crisp green salad for a well-rounded meal.
  7. Portion Control:
    • Cut and serve the pasta bake in individual portions for a visually appealing presentation.

In Conclusion

The Cheesy Tomato Pasta Bake is a culinary symphony that brings together the essence of Italian comfort food. Whether you’re hosting a family dinner or looking for a satisfying dish to share with friends, this recipe promises a delightful journey for your taste buds. So, preheat that oven, gather your ingredients, and savor the joy of creating a Cheesy Tomato Pasta Bake that fills your home with warmth and your heart with contentment. Buon appetito!

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