3 reasons to love baked pasta
In the States, we’re already used to eating baked pasta with our beloved mac and cheese. But have you ever thought of trying something different? Baked pasta is a perfect alternative that blends layers of pasta with a delicious creamy sauce and the crispiness of grilled cheese.
Whether it’s your favorite spaghetti and meatballs baked with gooey mozzarella cheese or baked ziti stuffed with ricotta and ground beef, you’ll find that baked pasta is a delicious way to pamper yourself. And unlike traditional stovetop pasta dishes, baked pasta is incredibly easy to make – all you need is a baking dish, your favorite baked pasta recipe, and a few simple ingredients.
What is baked pasta?
Baked pasta, or pasta al forno, has a really long history. As early as the Middle Ages and Renaissance, oven baked ziti, a kind of tubular pasta, were served on Italian tables at the banquets.
Throughout Sicily and Campania, baked pasta remains a favorite amongst many on Sundays or during special get-togethers. Today, baked pasta remains incredibly popular, from authentic recipes passed down from generation to generation to new and exciting variations that will delight the senses.
1. You can enjoy baked pasta in different ways
There are many different baked pasta dishes out there, each with their own unique flavors and textures. Some of the most popular baked pasta varieties include baked lasagna, baked mac and cheese, baked ravioli, baked penne pasta, baked bow tie pasta, baked gnocchi, baked tortellini, baked ziti and much more.
Baked ziti is a baked pasta dish that’s layered with tomato and cheese sauces, baked until hot and bubbly. It’s the easiest baked pasta you can cook: there’s almost no room for mistakes, and you are assured to enjoy a yummy meal. For extra flavor, you can also add meatballs for baked ziti meatballs or ground beef for baked ziti bolognese.
Lasagna is one of the most well-known baked pastas, filled with layers of savory meat sauce, creamy bechamel and rich shredded cheese. As a vegetarian, I really enjoy to bake it with vegetables, like the classical ricotta and spinach lasagna, or with zucchini, eggplant and tofu.
Mac and cheese
In Italy, there is baked ziti, and in the States, there is Mac and cheese! It really is the American take on baked pasta, and this includes everything Americans love: gooey cheddar cheese, creamy cheese sauce made with whole milk and cream, and for extra crisp, you can always add panko crumbs!
2. Make baked pasta with your favorite sauce!
As we’ve seen above, baked pasta is nothing without a good hearty sauce that brings creaminess to the dish and helps packing it with flavors. You can try to add bechamel, cheddar or arrabiata sauce to your favorite baked pasta recipe to add a little je ne sais quoi to impress your guests.
For the meat eaters, try baked pasta with meatballs, baked ziti bolognese or baked penne pasta with ground beef. You could also try tuna pasta bake for a lighter baked pasta dish.
If you are vegetarian, baked pasta offers you great options! Try baked zucchini lasagna, baked tofu lasagna or baked eggplant parmesan. For a lighter baked pasta dish, bake penne pasta with fresh veggies such as mushrooms and broccoli, or mix in some baked quinoa for added protein.
3. It’s just so easy!
It usually takes 20 minutes top to cook a baked pasta dish, and maybe 30 minutes more for it to cook.
And it’s not like you have much to do: just cook your pasta as told on the package and prepare a yummy sauce. Grab a baking dish, assemble, and voilà! Whether you’re in the mood for cheesy baked mac and cheese or baked ziti bolognese, there’s something out there for everyone. So why wait? Start browsing baked pasta recipes and cook!If you too suffer from the post-party pasta craving, don’t forget to save some of your delicious baked pasta in the freezer. This will provide a readymade treat when you need it most!