What separates baked pasta from regular sauced pasta is the gorgeously golden top layer of cheese. From lasagna to pastitsio, find 25 healthier baked pasta recipes.
The casserole idea is this: Disparate elements are combined, sauced, topped, and baked until yummy. In the noodle casserole,
pasta and sauce canoodle in the oven so that the former absorbs the flavor of the latter and softens deliciously, while the
cheese topping merrily bubbles and browns. In this collection, we apply these principles to lighter expressions of casserole
perfection. Let's get gooey.
First up, Baked Pasta with Spinach, Lemon, and Cheese makes use of casarecce pasta—a short noodle with a curled edge that provides a large groove to hold the creamy sauce. If you can't find it, use fusilli, campanelle, or radiatore. Use a large, deep pot for the pasta so the spinach will fit inside, as well.
View Recipe: Baked Pasta with Spinach, Lemon, and Cheese
Broth, thickened with flour and enriched with crème fraîche, forms the savory sauce in this dish. We like the addition of
earthy, hearty kale which helps balance the sweetness from the squash.
View Recipe: Bacon and Butternut Pasta
Rich porcini broth and nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano add deep umami taste to this vegetarian lasagna. Plain white button mushrooms
will work in place of cremini. Serve with a simple green salad for a satisfying meal.
View Recipe: Mushroom Lasagna
The shrimp goes into the pasta shells raw to prevent it from overcooking while the pasta bakes. Look for potato starch near
the cornstarch in your supermarket.
View Recipe: Shrimp-Stuffed Shells
This creamy baked pasta comes together quickly. Melted, gooey part-skim mozzarella cheese makes it even more decadent—without
leaving you feeling guilty. Use any short pasta—ziti or rotini also work.
View Recipe: Quick Pastitsio
Chicken Tetrazzini combines cooked vermicelli, chicken, and mushrooms with a rich sherry–Parmesan cheese sauce. The mixture
is sprinkled with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and baked until bubbly and golden. This is a great way to use leftover cooked
Parmesan is full of flavor, so a little goes a long way. We recommend buying the real thing, which has Parmigiano-Reggiano printed on the rind. It has a sharper taste and a firmer texture than domestic Parmesan.
View Recipe: Chicken Tetrazzini
Add pops of color to baked ziti with fresh summer veggies like squash, zucchini, and tomato. This quick and versatile recipe
can be easily adjusted based on your favorite veggies or what you have on hand.
View Recipe: Baked Ziti and Summer Veggies
Legendary Italian cook Lidia Bastianich shared her grandmother's surprisingly easy recipes for from-scratch homemade pasta,
including this Semolina Lasagna with Spicy Amatriciana, whose tomato-and-bacon sauce packs a red-pepper punch, balanced by
creamy melted mozzarella.
View Recipe: Semolina Lasagna with Spicy Amatriciana
Fresh spinach, chicken, and a combination of cheeses make this dish comforting enough for the last days of winter yet fresh
enough for the first days of spring.
You can also cook the pasta mixture in individual 8-ounce ramekins, and bake for 15 minutes.
View Recipe: Three-Cheese Chicken Penne Florentine
There are more than 50 user reviews of this casserole recipe, but nobody could have given it a higher compliment than Lauren. "This is the recipe that made my boyfriend fall in love with me. I am a huge fan of making dinners ahead of time and this
recipe lent itself well to that. The longer it sits and melds, the better it is. Yummy!"
View Recipe: Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese
Full of warm flavors—butternut squash, sweet caramelized onion, fresh sage, and even a hint of nutmeg—this is the perfect
company-worthy dish if you want to impress. Serve with a fresh salad of grapefruit and fennel, and sip our Pomegranate Fizz.
View Recipe: Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, and Spinach Lasagna
Red bell pepper and pickled jalapeño pepper get added to the mix in this grown-up baked mac and cheese. "This is a great basic
recipe because there are many possibilities for variations with different pastas and cheeses," says reader and recipe creater,
Jeff Towle. "You can also use individual gratin dishes if you want a special presentation."
View Recipe: Two-Pepper Rigatoni and Cheese
To help ensure that the cheesy layer remains moist and creamy, don’t press out the extra water from the tofu. Serve the lasagna
with breadsticks and a green salad.
View Recipe: Baked Vegetable Lasagna
One of our Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest finalists, this recipe for Sausage-Stuffed Manicotti was one of our top picks in the Family Dinners category. Says Beverly
O'Ferrall, of Linkwood, Maryland, "I developed this recipe many years ago. Since then, I've lightened it with turkey sausage,
and I use smaller amounts of flavorful cheeses, where a little goes a long way. Like most baked pastas, this dish requires
some time, but it's well worth the effort."
View Recipe: Sausage-Stuffed Manicotti
Hearty and rich, this vegetarian lasagna will satisfy the most die-hard of meat eaters. You don't have to spend a lot on truffle
oil to make this luxurious meatless lasagna; look for small 2- or 3-ounce bottles, which are less likely to go bad before
you use up the oil.
View Recipe: Truffled Wild Mushroom Lasagna
Two types of mushrooms along with a full cup of Italian Asiago cheese give body and flavor to the velvety sauce, which is
laced with sherry.
View Recipe: Mushroom Rigatoni Bake
Bottled salsa and canned tomatoes are the shortcut to a zesty sauce for this unique dish. It's in the familiar Italian layered-noodle
form, but the flavors and fillings―cumin, black beans, corn―are pure Southwest. Try different flavors of salsa to shake up
this dish, whether with the herbs and spices of a mild variety or the fiery heat of a spicy one.
View Recipe: Tex-Mex Lasagna
If you're in the mood for something spicy rather than creamy, this is it. For a little less heat, use mild turkey Italian
sausage instead of hot.
View Recipe: Italian Sausage Puttanesca
Vegetable lasagna is a crowd-pleaser and a classic make-ahead dish. You can use precut onions, matchstick-cut carrots, and
broccoli, in addition to precooked noodles, to speed up preparation. If you make it ahead, let it cool completely, then cover
and chill. The next day, heat single servings in the microwave. Freeze leftovers for dinner.
View Recipe: Garden-Style Lasagna
To fill the shells, simply spoon the cheese mixture into a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; squeeze out the air. Snip a one-inch
hole in one corner of the bag, and pipe the filling into the shells.
View Recipe: Artichoke, Spinach, and Feta Stuffed Shells
This is mac and cheese for adults. It's got all the creamy comfort of the original, with the sophisticated flavors of Italian
cheeses standing in for the traditional cheddar. The garlicky breadcrumb topping adds crunch and visual interest. If you want
an even more elegant presentation, bake individual servings in ramekins or gratin dishes for each guest.
View Recipe: Fontina and Mascarpone Baked Pasta
Filled with a satisfying blend of spinach and three cheeses, the stuffed shells simmer in tomato-basil pasta sauce as the
dish bakes in the oven.
View Recipe: Easy Meatless Manicotti
Rigatoni is a great family weeknight meal. Slightly undercook the pasta for this classic hamburger casserole because it cooks
again in the oven.
View Recipe: Baked Rigatoni with Beef
The oven-ready noodles and bottled sauce make this a quick recipe to put together.
Tip: Summer squash's mild taste and cool flavor make it a perfect for blending with other ingredients. Look for firm squash with little blemishing; refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to three days.
View Recipe: Zucchini and Basil Lasagna