My husband often works pretty late and on occasion, I will have a meeting to get to late into the evening as well. On nights like that I am thankful to have the support of my parents who adore my children. And my kids love going over to Vavó and Vavô’s house! But, my mom also works all day, so when they will be there up until bed time and the kid’s need supper, I like to bring by something ready to put in the oven when I can. something easy and portable is this “Easy Cheesy Pasta Bake”!
Of course if I am making this and bringing it to my parent’s house, then that leaves my husband to fend for himself, not to mention a hungry me when I get home… So, what I decided to do to solve that issue was to make one big batch and divide it among two smaller baking dishes, which was more than enough to feed both homes! (Of course you could make this recipe and freeze half too! – just freeze before the final step of popping it in the oven)
This recipe is great for kids because it has a fun cork screw pasta, cheese and it’s not spicy at all… Of course you could kick it up by using a spicy sausage and spicing up the sauce a bit, but my kids love this version and since Mom and Dad were out working late, the kids win. It’s got all the same ingredients of a lasagna, but it’s got some semi-homemade ingredients like an easy jarred marinara and it takes about 20 minutes tops to prepare! Then, just pop it in the oven and serve!
This meal is easy enough to be a week night meal, pack away as a freezer meal or serve to a crowd! Let me show you how I did it…
Easy Cheesy Pasta Bake
1 box Cavatappi Pasta, cooked to al dente
For the sauce:
5-6 links Italian Sausage, casing removed
1 onion, diced
1 tsp. olive oil
1 jar marinara sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. Italian seasoning mix
salt and pepper to taste
For cheese mixture:
2 cups Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded 3. cheese
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 dash salt
1 dash pepper
8 oz. block mozzarella, cubed
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1 Tbs. grated parmesan
Cook off pasta to one minute less than the package ingredients, drain.
In a large skillet over medium heat, brown sausage while chopping it into smaller bits with a wooden spoon. Add in onions and oil. Render the fat out of the sausage and drain if needed. Once sausage and onions are brown, add in jarred marinara and can of diced tomatoes. To the sauce add in Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine ricotta, grated parmesan, eggs, shredded mozzarella, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
Add cheese mixture to drained pasta. Place in a baking dish. Directly on the cheesy pasta add on 1/2 the cubed mozzarella, then sauce. Now dot the top with remaining cubed mozzarella, shredded mozzarella and parmesan.
Bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes. Serve, enjoy!
*Note: If making this recipe gluten-free, just use a gluten-free pasta and follow all instructions.