10 Easy Cheese Pasta Dishes

10 Easy Cheese Pasta Dishes

A baked pasta dish can be a lifesaver while on vacation. Cheese and delicious, this is something almost everyone will eat, including children. You can do this ahead of time if you need to feed a crowd, and they travel well for these potlucks! Baked pasta can be as meaty and comforting as you want, or you can lighten the dish up and make it vegetarian.

“Baked pasta dishes are great for a crowd for so many reasons,” Christopher Arturo, head instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, told TODAY Food. “They’re easy to scale and can be made ahead of time. Because they have less sauce, it’s easy to spread them out (and not as messy) and you can get an equal amount of all of them. ingredients in each serving.

If you’re making a baking dish with more sauce like baked lasagna or ziti, Arturo recommends using a casserole dish. For a less spicy dish, where you want to invert it to serve, he recommends a non-stick pan.

Choose the best ingredients

“Well, soft cheeses that can be bonded at room temperature are a must,” Arturo said. “As you cook it, the cheese will seep between the pasta and other ingredients and as it cools it will help bind the dish together. Cast iron and mozzarella are two good examples of this.”

Arturo recommends a thicker, less runny tomato sauce for baked pasta dishes. “The less moisture there is, the less chance the slices will move around when you make a cut and the items slide out of place,” he said. This type of sauce is generally more deeply flavored.

It is best to use smaller pasta, the ones that are tubular and have holes and lots of ridges on the outside. “It absorbs more sauce, helps the sauce stick better, and has areas that can be filled with cheese and sauce,” he said. Penne, ziti, mezzi rigatoni, and rigatoni are all great options. “If you want to use longer pasta, I would suggest bucatini.”

How to cook

“If you’re using dry pasta, boil it in salted water until it’s just al dente, then drain it and spread it out on a baking sheet,” Arturo said. “It will help aerate it, so it will end up being a bit stickier, so it binds the dish better. “

If you are using fresh pasta, the sauce and steam will cook it, so just lay it on top of each other.

How to freeze

“I recommend baking the pasta dish in the oven and then letting it cool before cutting it into small pieces to freeze it,” Arturo said. “I would avoid freezing the dish before baking, as there is a lot of moisture that will turn to ice and make the dish runny.”

Ready for some serious comfort food for your crowd? Read on for some of our favorite baked pasta recipes you can try tonight:

Italian pasta in the oven

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

For a vegetarian option, substitute the sausage in this recipe for fresh vegetables like peppers, zucchini or mushrooms.

Baked Ziti Bolognese

TODAY

This comforting dish is easy enough for a weekday meal, but also impressive for serving to a family of guests.

Baked Chicken and Penne Pasta

Nathan Congleton

This is a great dish to make ahead of time because it freezes very well. Insider tip: If you have multiple open pasta boxes, add them all for a variety of shapes!

All Vodka Baked Penne

TODAY

This one is used for serving at parties – just make sure to remove the pan from the heat before adding the vodka so it doesn’t catch fire!

Ziti in the oven with fontina and prosciutto

Laura Vitale

With salty chunks of prosciutto, think of this dish as an adult mac and cheese.

Baked pesto pasta casserole from Giada De Laurentiis

Lance Booth / TODAY

This dish includes basil pesto, shallots and grated Parmesan.

Easy spaghetti cooking with ground beef and vegetables

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

It’s a great way to make a satisfying dish using leftovers or ingredients that don’t cost too much.

'Ncasciata' pasta from the Giacona family

Michel gulotta

Frozen eggplants are added to this dish to make it a comforting meal for many.

Joy Bauer Baked Ziti Casserole

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Joy Bauer slips spinach into this light version of baked ziti.

penne pie

Brandon Goodwin / TODAY

This penne pie is insanely good and can easily feed a crowd.

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