Baked Penne Pasta

Baked Penne Pasta

This is my take on the traditional baked ziti.  I rarely have ziti pasta on hand and almost always have penne pasta in my pantry.  It was one of those days that I was home and had some hamburger that I wanted to fix into something tasty.  Of course pasta is always an easy thing to turn into a one pan dinner.  I rummaged through my pantry and fridge to see what I could put together and I came up with this recipe, writing it down as I went.  If I don’t keep notes of how I make things, then my husband will tell me he likes this dish just like it is and ask me to make it again.  Well, I can’t remember one meal to the next, much less how I threw something together.  So, I make notes.  LOTS of notes.

If you think about it, this one dish really does have lots of great vegetables and flavors along with protein from the meat and carbs from the pasta.  I’m not one for living on carbs, but all things in moderation and balance works for me.  Kinda like peanut butter on toast make a great breakfast.  Well, around here it does.

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Here’s how I made it.

Baked Penne Pasta

Baked Penne Pasta

For this dish, I find it easier to do all the prep work first before I start cooking.  A lot of times, I chop and throw it in as I’m cooking.  Here I had fresh whole mushrooms to slice plus onions, carrots and red bell peppers to dice.  Well, maybe not the peppers since I had them in the freezer.  That’s handy.  I just measured out how much I wanted.

Baked Penne Pasta

For herbs, I had fresh thyme in the refrigerator and Lemon Basil with Olive Oil in the freezer.  Super Handy!  I freeze the basil in ice cubes and then pop them out into a freezer bag.  Want to know how I Freeze Basil?  Click the link and check out my post on that.  It’s as close to fresh as you can get in the winter time unless you want to run to the store for the fresh.  Me, not so much.  By the way, I also freeze Basil Pesto.  Check out that post too!

Baked Penne Pasta

OK, now that I have all the prep work done, the rest is about dumping it in and stirring.  Well, let’s start with browning the meat first.  When it’s almost done, drain the excess grease and stir in the fresh mushrooms.  (If you don’t have fresh mushrooms on hand, canned works just as well)

Baked Penne Pasta

Finish browning the meat and sauteing the mushrooms for another 5 minutes or so.

Baked Penne Pasta

Throw in the diced onions, carrots and red bell pepper.  Cook that over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Baked Penne Pasta

Then add the tomato paste, garlic, thyme sprigs, basil with olive oil.  Stir.  As you can see here, the basil ice cube has thawed out.

A tip on the tomato paste.  When a recipe calls for a Tablespoon or so of tomato paste, I don’t like opening a can and then having most of it leftover.  Instead, I keep a tube of tomato paste in my fridge.  It’s great for recipes like this one.

Baked Penne Pasta

Add the diced tomatoes and stir.

Baked Penne Pasta

Add the tomato sauce.  Stir.

Baked Penne Pasta

Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.  If I have time, I like for it to simmer even longer.

Meanwhile, cook the penne pasta as directed on package.

Baked Penne Pasta

Start by putting a layer of the sauce on the bottom of the pan.

Baked Penne Pasta

Then add the cooked penne pasta.

Baked Penne Pasta

Pour the hot meat sauce on top of the penne pasta, removing the thyme sprigs.

Baked Penne Pasta

Sprinkle on a nice layer of Parmesan cheese.

Baked Penne Pasta

I didn’t feel like shredding the mozzarella cheese, so I just sliced the block and layered it on top.  Either way works just fine.

Baked Penne Pasta

Cover it with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until it’s all hot and bubbly.

Baked Penne Pasta

Oh my goodness, my mouth is just watering.  If you could only smell this.  It is scrumptious!

Baked Penne Pasta

This is what I call comfort food.  (and it makes great leftovers for lunch the next day)

What’s your favorite comfort food?

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Here’s the printer friendly recipe.

Baked Penne Pasta

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Baked Penne Pasta

This is my take on the traditional baked ziti. This dish really does have lots of great vegetables and flavors along with protein from the meat and carbs from the pasta. It is well balanced.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup diced bell pepper
  • 2 carrots peeled and diced, about 3/4 cup
  • 8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cube frozen basil with olive oil, or 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2-3 springs fresh thyme
  • 2 - 15 ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 - 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 10 ounces dry penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, brown the ground chuck over medium-high heat until it's almost done.
  2. Drain excess grease.
  3. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute' for 5 minutes.
  4. Throw in the diced onions, carrots and red bell pepper.
  5. Cook for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  6. Then add the tomato paste, garlic, thyme sprigs, basil with olive oil and stir.
  7. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir.
  8. Cover.
  9. Bring to a boil.
  10. Reduce heat to a low setting and simmer for 30 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.
  12. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  13. In an 8x12x3 casserole dish, put a layer of the meat sauce on the bottom.
  14. Put the cooked penne pasta on top of the sauce.
  15. Pour the rest of the meat sauce on top of the penne pasta, removing the thyme sprigs..
  16. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top.
  17. Add the Mozzarella cheese on top of the Parmesan cheese.
  18. Cover with aluminum foil.
  19. Bake 30 minutes or until it's hot and bubbly.
http://sweetteawithlemon.com/baked-penne-pasta/

 

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