Baked Pasta with Spinach, Lemon, and Cheese
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.
Bacon and Butternut Pasta
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 chicken.
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.
Baked Ziti and Summer Veggies
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.
Semolina Lasagna with Spicy Amatriciana
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.
Three-Cheese Chicken Penne Florentine
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.
Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese Recipe
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!"
Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, and Spinach Lasagna
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.
Two-Pepper Rigatoni and Cheese
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."
Baked Vegetable Lasagna
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.
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."
Truffled Wild Mushroom Lasagna
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.
Mushroom Rigatoni Bake
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.
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.
Wild Mushroom Pastitsio
Italian Sausage Puttanesca
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.
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.
Artichoke, Spinach, and Feta Stuffed Shells
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.
Fontina and Mascarpone Baked Pasta
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.
Easy Meatless Manicotti
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.
Baked Rigatoni with Beef
Rigatoni is a great family weeknight meal. Slightly undercook the pasta for this classic hamburger casserole because it cooks again in the oven.
Zucchini and Basil Lasagna
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.