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closeup shot of scooping pasta bake out of oven dish
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5 from 5 votes

Easy Cheesy Veggie Pasta Bake

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!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Comfort Food
Servings: 5
Calories: 380kcal
Cost: £1.50 / $2

Equipment

  • 9x13" Baking Dish (or similar size)
  • Pot & Colander (for pasta)
  • Large Deep Frying Pan & Wooden Spoon
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Cheese Grater

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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!

Video

Notes

a) What Vegetables to use? - You can really use any you want, I just recommend using 1lb/500g's worth! I usually go for whatever is lurking about in the fridge, and the above veggies are the usual suspects. Broccoli, sweetcorn, asparagus and carrot all work great too!
b)Stir fry veg - To ensure the veg doesn't turn too soft and sloppy in the oven, quickly fry your veg over high heat to ensure it takes on some colour, but stays slightly firm before you add the sauce and bake. If the heat is too low the veg will steam and struggle to caramelize properly.
c) Oil - Because you're stir-frying over high heat, you want to use an oil with a high smoking point like vegetable, canola or rapeseed oil. Not olive oil.
d) Cheese - I love adding mozzarella through the centre for a nice bit of cheese pull, but this is optional. Cheddar on top is a classic, I always go for a nice strong cheddar for a punch of flavour. Could also use parmesan.
e) Al Dente Pasta - To avoid the pasta becoming sloppy and breaking up in the oven, you want to under-boil it by a few minutes. You only want it to just be cooked before you add it to the sauce.
f) Leftovers - Allow pasta to cool, then cover and pop in the fridge or freezer. If freezing, I usually allow to thaw in the fridge over night then reheat in portions in the microwave.
g) Serving/Calories - Serves 5 big portions of 6 with a side of Garlic Bread. Calories based on sharing between 5 with no side.

Nutrition

Calories: 380kcal | Carbohydrates: 33.42g | Protein: 18.68g | Fat: 20.47g | Saturated Fat: 9.893g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.942g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6.304g | Trans Fat: 0.411g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 377mg | Potassium: 932mg | Fiber: 7.6g | Sugar: 10.32g | Vitamin A: 3281IU | Vitamin C: 67.6mg | Calcium: 387mg | Iron: 1.71mg