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Cheesy Penne Pasta Bake

Ultimate Comfort: Cheesy Penne Pasta Bake Extravaganza

healty meal, low carbs meals, keto meal
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Dive into a world of pure comfort and indulgence with our Cheesy Penne Pasta Bake recipe. This classic dish combines the simplicity of penne pasta with a luscious blend of cheeses, baked to golden perfection. Whether you’re hosting a family dinner or craving a satisfying weeknight meal, this pasta bake is a foolproof way to please everyone at the table. Get ready to embark on a culinary journey that celebrates the joy of cheesy goodness!

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healty meal, low carbs meals, keto meal
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Ingredients

For the Pasta Bake:

  • 1 pound penne pasta, cooked al dente
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley (for garnish)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Cheesy Topping:

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Instructions

  1. Preheat and Prepare: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
  2. Combine Pasta and Sauce: In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked penne pasta and marinara sauce. Mix well to ensure the pasta is evenly coated.
  3. Layering Cheeses: In the prepared baking dish, layer half of the pasta mixture. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella, Parmesan, and ricotta cheeses over the pasta. Repeat the layer with the remaining pasta and cheeses.
  4. Cheesy Topping: In a separate bowl, mix together the shredded cheddar, breadcrumbs, melted butter, and dried oregano. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the top layer of cheese.
  5. Bake to Perfection: Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbly.
  6. Garnish and Serve: Once out of the oven, let it cool for a few minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh basil or parsley. Serve warm, and watch the cheesy magic unfold!

Cook Notes and Variations

  • Meaty Twist: Add cooked ground beef, sausage, or shredded rotisserie chicken between the pasta layers for a hearty variation.
  • Veggie Delight: Incorporate sautéed vegetables such as spinach, mushrooms, or bell peppers for a flavorful veggie-loaded pasta bake.
  • Creamy Addition: Mix a cup of Alfredo sauce with the marinara for an extra creamy and indulgent twist.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I use a different type of pasta?

A: Absolutely! While penne works wonderfully, feel free to experiment with your favorite pasta shapes like rigatoni, fusilli, or even macaroni.

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Q: Can I make this pasta bake ahead of time?

A: Certainly! Assemble the dish without baking, cover it tightly, and refrigerate. Bake when ready to serve, allowing a few extra minutes in the oven to ensure thorough heating.

Q: Can I freeze Cheesy Penne Pasta Bake?

A: Yes, you can freeze it before or after baking. If freezing before, thaw in the refrigerator before baking. For reheating a baked pasta, allow it to come to room temperature, cover with foil, and bake until heated through.

Q: Can I use different types of cheese?

A: Absolutely! Feel free to experiment with different cheeses like fontina, provolone, or asiago to customize the flavor profile.

Keto and Low-Carb Versions

Keto Option:

Replace the penne pasta with cauliflower or zucchini noodles. Use a low-carb marinara sauce, and choose full-fat versions of mozzarella, cheddar, and ricotta cheese.

healty meal, low carbs meals, keto meal

Low-Carb Version:

Opt for a low-carb pasta alternative or use spaghetti squash. Replace breadcrumbs with crushed pork rinds for the topping, and ensure the marinara sauce is low in carbohydrates.

In conclusion, our Cheesy Penne Pasta Bake is the epitome of comfort food that never fails to delight. This versatile recipe allows for endless variations, making it suitable for various tastes and dietary preferences. Whether you’re a cheese enthusiast, a pasta lover, or simply someone seeking a satisfying meal, this bake checks all the boxes. So, preheat that oven, gather your ingredients, and let the aroma of bubbling cheese and savory marinara fill your kitchen. Elevate your pasta game with this delectable creation that promises to become a family favorite in no tim

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