Penne Pasta Bake With Tomatoes and Mozzarella Cheese

Easy Penne Pasta Bake With Tomatoes and Mozzarella
The Spruce
Ratings (31)
  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
428 Calories
9g Fat
71g Carbs
17g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 428
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 11%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 17mg 6%
Sodium 199mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 71g 26%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Protein 17g
Calcium 189mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This simple penne pasta recipe includes garlic, tomatoes, and shredded mozzarella cheese. It's a simple dish to fix and bake, and it makes a fabulous everyday meal or potluck dish. Plus, it's meat-free. If you're looking for something simple to serve your vegetarian friends and family or you simply want a way to dress up plain pasta, this is an excellent choice. Or make it a vegan dish by using a dairy-free cheese replacement.

This dish can be a stand-alone meal or serve it along with a salad or a meat entree. Add some grilled or broiled chicken breasts, fish, or steaks. Of course, you can adapt it with the addition of meat. Brown some ground beef or Italian sausage and add it to the sauce if you like, or add some diced cooked chicken to the tomato mixture. Instead of all mozzarella cheese, consider half cheddar or a blend of mozzarella, cheddar, and provolone. You'll have the extra flavor, and it will still melt beautifully.

Mushrooms are another excellent option that will add texture and earthy flavor. Saute a few ounces of fresh sliced mushrooms along with the onions. The pasta is adaptable as well. Feel free to swap out the penne with elbow macaroni, ditalini, rigatoni, or ziti in the dish. 

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces penne pasta (or similar shape)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely minced)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (crumbled, or about 1 tablespoon fresh chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh chopped)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (divided)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Penne Pasta Bake ingredients
     The Spruce
  2. Heat the oven to 350 F (180 C/Gas 4).

  3. Butter a 2 1/2 to 3-quart shallow baking dish or casserole.

  4. Cook the penne pasta in boiling salted water as directed on package; drain well and set aside.

  5. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion to the pan and cook for about 4 minutes, or until it is translucent. Add the garlic to the onion and continue cooking for 1 minute. 

    Penne Pasta Bake
     The Spruce
  6. Add the tomatoes, basil, and oregano to the onion and garlic. Cook until heated through, stirring frequently.

    Penne Pasta Bake
    The Spruce
  7. Taste and add salt and pepper.

  8. In a large bowl, combine the cooked, drained penne, the tomato sauce mixture, and 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese.

    Penne Pasta Bake
     The Spruce
  9. Stir to blend the ingredients thoroughly.

    Penne Pasta Bake
    The Spruce 
  10. Spoon the pasta and sauce mixture into the prepared casserole.

    Penne Pasta Bake
     The Spruce
  11. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese over the top.

    Penne Pasta Bake
    The Spruce
  12. Bake the casserole for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pasta is hot and bubbly and the cheese has melted. 

    Penne Pasta Bake
     The Spruce

    Kitchen Notes

  13. For a chunkier sauce, replace half of the crushed tomatoes with a 14.5-ounce can of Italian seasoned diced tomatoes.

  14. Or add the diced tomatoes in addition to the 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes.