Cheesy, saucy comfort food! We love this recipe for a simple and delicious vegetarian baked penne. Just follow a few quick tips and tricks and you’ll have yummy baked pasta on your table in no time!
It’s time for some more amazing Italian food around here!
Can we have too many cheesy, saucy, satisfying Italian recipes? If your continuing love for Italian marinara sauce, pork shoulder ragu, traditional bolognese sauce, and ground beef skillet pasta says anything, the answer is a resounding NO. Instead, you’re saying I need to share more Italian comfort food!
You ask, and I shall answer.
Vegetarian Baked Penne
I’ve actually had this recipe for a long time, but the original was much more complex. There were a few sauces, more ingredients and steps, and a lot more MORE to it, if you know what I mean. 🙂 Once I decided I wanted to share a baked pasta recipe with you all, I looked at that recipe and worked to streamline it.
Because the best go-to baked penne is going to be cheesy, comforting, simple, and delicious, while NOT using all the pots and pans in your kitchen.
In fact, I dare say this baked pasta can be weeknight dinner for a night when you have just a little more time to spend. And you’ll be happy to slide the casserole dish onto the table at your next pot luck, holiday meal, or Sunday dinner.
How do you make vegetarian baked penne?
To make simple vegetarian baked penne, combine parboiled penne with marinara sauce, shredded cheese, and basil. Bake until the cheese is melted and pasta is cooked through. Top with more cheese and basil.
What makes this baked penne special?
Using soft and fresh burrata provides the perfect creamy top to the pasta without having to make a bechamel sauce. Fresh mozzarella (at least the kind I can find) tends to get rubbery when heated, but the burrata warmed in the gentle heat as the pasta rests is gooey and creamy and stretchy.
Can you make vegetarian baked penne ahead?
Baked penne (or baked ziti) can be assembled ahead of time and either refrigerated overnight or tightly wrapped and frozen for up to 2 months. Once you have prepped the ingredients and mixed everything together in the casserole dish, cover and store.
From the fridge: Cover with aluminum foil. Then put in a preheated 400F oven for 40-50 minutes. The sauce will be bubbly and the cheese melted.
From the freezer: Defrost the pasta until thawed in the refrigerator (usually about 1 day). Then cover with aluminum foil and bake as above for 40 minutes.
Either way, you will add the burrata when it comes out of the oven. Note: The burrata does not reheat well. Don’t add it until your pasta is hot and you are ready to serve.
If you try my recipe for Vegetarian Baked Penne, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
You can connect with me by subscribing to my emails (see the form in the sidebar or below the recipe card), liking my FACEBOOK page, or by following me on PINTEREST.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
For classic, cheesy Italian comfort food, you'll love this simple recipe for vegetarian baked penne! It's full of marinara sauce, mozzarella, and tender pasta. Mix it up by using rigatoni or ziti in place of the penne!
- kosher salt, for the water
- 5 cups marinara sauce
- 4 oz (~1 cup) shredded low-moisture mozzarella,
- 1 oz shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
- 16 oz penne, or other tube pasta such as ziti and rigatoni
- 8 oz burrata cheese
- 2 tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil
Heat the oven to 400F. Pull out a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While you are waiting, get everything else prepped.
Heat the marinara sauce on medium high and bring it to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and keep it hot.
Shred the cheese and slice the basil. Add them both to a large bowl.
Add the penne to the boiling water and parcook for 5 minutes. (Pasta will still be firm.)
Scoop out 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta.
Add the pasta and pasta water to the bowl along with the marinara sauce..
Give everything a good stir to evenly distribute the cheese and basil.
Pour the pasta mixture into the baking dish. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce is bubbling.
Remove the pasta from the oven. Uncover the dish and break up the burrata over the dish so that the cheese is spread out over the top. Recover the baking dish.
Let the pasta rest for 10 minutes. Then uncover and top with the basil. Serve.
- Burrata: Since the burrata is softened by the heat of the pasta, be sure to work quickly while topping the pasta with it. You don't need to be completely even, just have good coverage over most of the dish.
- Pasta: There are a number of short tube pastas which would be great in this recipe. Ziti, rigatoni, and mostaccioli are other choices.
- Make ahead: Make the pasta up through step 8. Then pour the pasta into the baking dish, wrap it well, and either store in the refrigerator overnight or in the freezer for up to two months. To cook take the cold pasta (if frozen, thaw overnight), cover with foil and bake for 40-50 minutes. Continue with the recipe as written.
- Marinara Sauce: You can use a fresh sauce, such as my Italian Marinara, or your favorite bottled sauce.