Nothing screams comfort food louder than pasta bake & this vegetarian version is no exception. Easy Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake – your new favourite dinner ready and waiting!
*This recipe has been updated for extra deliciousness! Tasty before, even tastier now*
The BEST Leftover Vegetables Recipe!
If you’re anything like me, you’ve got an entire vegetable garden sat in your fridge which is on the verge of dying a sad and wasted death. It’s a far too common occurrence, but that’s exactly what veggie pasta bakes are for. You can truly go wild with what veg you want to add into the pasta bake, but here’s the offenders most spotted in the back of my fridge:
Best Vegetables for Pasta
Carrots, Asparagus, Sweet Corn and Broccoli all work perfectly too! But like I said, go wild with whatever you fancy. As long as it’s not actually grown legs and walking out your fridge, because then it’s food waste time.
You can of course buy fresh vegetables for this pasta bake too 😁
How much Veg to put in Pasta Bake?
For this recipe I recommend 1lb/500g, 3.5oz/100g of each. I find this bulks out the pasta perfectly enough to feed 5-6 people.
Easy Vegetable Pasta Bake
The other great thing about a veggie pasta bake besides being an awesome way to use up leftovers, is the fact it’s so freakin’ easy to make. Literally no/little cooking ability needed. Vegetable pasta bakes are supposed to be stress free, and that’s exactly what this one is.
With the same token, I have made more pasta bakes than I care to admit, so along the way I have picked up some top tips For the best Pasta Bake:
Tips for the perfect veggie pasta bake
- Al dente pasta – You only want to cook the pasta until it’s just about done, so take a few minutes off of the packet instruction. If you fully cook the pasta, it’s going to come out broken and sloppy after it’s baked.
- Stir fry veg – Same with the veg, you don’t want it too soft and sloppy when it comes out the oven. When frying, make sure you quickly fry over high heat, enough to caramelize the veg, but not get it too soft.
- Herbs – Always good to take the flavour up a notch! Here I use dried oregano and basil, then fresh parsley to serve.
- Cheese – Because really, is a pasta bake a pasta bake if it’s not bombarded with cheese!? More on this in just a sec.
How to make Vegetable Pasta Bake (quick summary)
- Heat oil until smoking hot.
- Add veg and stir fry.
- Stir in tomato puree/paste.
- Add chopped tomatoes, veg stock, seasoning.
- Simmer to thicken.
- Add pasta.
Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake
Okay, put quite simply, a pasta bake isn’t a pasta bake unless there’s cheese. Sorry, I don’t make the rules!
Best Cheese for Pasta Bake
In my opinion there’s two you can’t compete with: Cheddar and Mozzarella. I add mozzarella through the middle of the pasta bake, you know, just for that classic cheese pull. Cheddar goes perfectly on top because it goes golden and crispy.
Can you make pasta bake ahead of time?
You can, it’s just more important than usual to undercook the pasta, otherwise it’ll bloat and absorb the sauce as it rests. I also tend to cool the sauce before combining with the pasta for the same reason. Just make as instructed, with those two points in mind, then cover and store in the fridge until ready to bake. Full transparency I do prefer it freshly baked!
Serving Vegetable Pasta Bake
Once it’s out the oven, I let it sit for a few mins, or at least until it stops spitting at me. From there I love a good sprinkling of fresh parsley.
What to serve withVegetable Pasta Bake?
- Roasted Garlic Bread
- Caprese Pull Apart Bread
- Cheesy Pesto Garlic Bread
- Feta Bruschetta
- Garlic Butter Potato Skins
- Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread
Can I freeze pasta bake leftovers?
Absolutely! Just let the pasta cool then cover and pop in portions in the freezer. I usually defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat in the microwave.
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe shall we?
How to make a Vegetable Pasta Bake (Full Recipe & Video)
Easy Cheesy Veggie Pasta Bake
- 9x13" Baking Dish (or similar size)
- Pot & Colander (for pasta)
- Large Deep Frying Pan & Wooden Spoon
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
- Cheese Grater
Ingredients (check list):
- 10.5oz / 300g Penne Pasta (or other short-cut pasta)
- 3x 14oz/400g cans of Chopped Tomatoes
- 1.5 cups / 150g Cheddar, grated (or more as you like)
- 1 cup / 100g Mozzarella, shredded
- 1 cup / 250ml Vegetable Stock
- 3.5oz / 100g EACH: sliced Red Onion, sliced Peppers, sliced Mushrooms, diced Eggplant/Aubergine, diced Zucchini/Courgette (1lb/500g Veg in total)
- 2 tbsp Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in US)
- 1 heaped tsp EACH: Dried Oregano, Dried Basil
- 1 tsp Garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp Chilli Flakes, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp Sugar, or to taste
- 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
- Fresh Parsley, to garnish
- Heat up 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large deep frying pan over high heat until it begins to smoke. Add in all 1lb/500g of your veg and begin to stir fry. Shake the pan frequently so the veg doesn't steam itself, you want the veg nicely browned and still a little firm. The veg will cook through properly as you simmer the sauce and bake in the oven, so don't worry too much if it's browned but not completely cooked through.
- Add 1 tsp garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper, continue stir frying for another 1-2mins until the garlic browns.
- Turn heat down to medium and stir in 2 tbsp tomato puree. Fry the puree for 1-2mins, then add 3x 14oz/400g cans of chopped tomatoes. Add a drizzle of water to the cans and shake out all the tomato juice.
- Pour in 1cup/250ml vegetable stock, then add 1 heaped tsp oregano & basil, 1/2 tsp sugar and chilli flakes (or to taste) and salt & pepper (to taste). Give it a good stir then simmer for 15mins, or until it starts to thicken slightly.
- Meanwhile, add 10.5oz/300g pasta to salted boiling water and boil until al dente. You want it still a bit hard otherwise it'll go soft and mushy in the oven. Drain and combine with sauce. Preheat oven to 200C/390F.
- In a suitably sized baking dish, spoon in half your pasta, top with 1cup/100g mozzarella, spoon over the rest of your pasta and top with cheddar (to you hearts content). Bake in the oven for 20mins or until golden and bubbly on top.
- Allow to cool for a few mins then serve with an extra helping of fresh parsley!
Quick 1 min demo!
If you loved this Vegetable Pasta Bake then be sure to Pin it for later! Already made it or got a burning question? Give me a shout in the comments below and pick up your free ecookbook along the way!