Easy Vegetable Pasta Bake

I love this easy cheesy pasta bake recipe that is packed with delicious veggies. Our meatless baked pasta will make both the vegetarians and meat lovers in your life happy. It’s so delicious!

Veggie Baked Pasta Recipe Video

My favorite vegetable lasagna inspires this super simple veggie pasta bake. It’s my attempt to make something just as delicious, while taking less time to prepare. I nailed it!

I still love that lasagna, but when I’m short on time, I turn to this cheesy baked pasta. For more vegetable-heavy pasta recipes, see our veggie spaghetti and these veggie stuffed shells!

Baked Pasta with Vegetables

Key Ingredients

  • Pasta: I love ziti or rigatoni for baked pasta recipes. I used rigatoni in the photos.
  • Vegetables: The vegetables you add to this pasta bake can be adapted based on seasonality or what is in your kitchen. I love the combination of onion, peppers, and mushrooms, but other vegetables work, too. Try zucchini, spinach, kale, and cubed eggplant.
  • Pasta sauce: To make this extra easy, I use store-bought or homemade sauce stashed in my freezer. This red pasta sauce is my favorite homemade sauce (it tastes similar to Rao’s).
  • Fennel and fresh basil: I sneak in a bit of extra flavor with fennel seeds and fresh basil. I love them!
  • Ricotta and mozzarella cheese: The ricotta turns into pockets of creamy heaven and the mozzarella becomes melty and brown.

How to Make Veggie Baked Pasta

I start by partially cooking my vegetables in a skillet on the stove. I use the largest oven-safe skillet in my kitchen (it needs to fit all the pasta). If you don’t have a large enough skillet, you can always use a regular baking dish for the oven portion of the recipe.

Vegetables for the Pasta Bake

You’ll cook sliced onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms on the stovetop. While the veggies cook, cook your pasta in another pot. Then, combine the sauteed veggies, pasta, fresh basil, and sauce in the skillet. 

Before baking, sneak spoonfuls of creamy ricotta cheese into the pasta and vegetables, then add shredded cheese to the top. Bake the pasta until bubbly and enjoy!

Baked Pasta with Lots of Vegetables

Make Ahead Tips

Refrigerate the unbaked pasta for up to 2 days. Add a layer of parchment or wax paper, and then cover with foil to prevent the foil from reacting with the tomato sauce.

The baked pasta freezes well. Let it cool completely on a rack before freezing, then wrap it well with foil (we use two layers). Defrost the frozen pasta overnight in the refrigerator and then bake at 400°F for about 1 hour. (I prefer baking and freezing the pasta instead of freezing uncooked pasta dishes.)

Vegetable Baked Pasta

Easy Vegetable Pasta Bake

  • PREP
  • COOK
  • TOTAL

We love this vegetable baked pasta packed with veggies, pockets of ricotta cheese, and topped with melty mozzarella. The vegetables you use can be adapted based on seasonality, check our article above for more suggestions.

Makes 8 servings

Watch Us Make the Recipe

You Will Need

1 pound (450g) dried pasta like rigatoni or ziti

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 medium onion, about 6 ounces

2 small bell peppers, about 8 ounces

8 ounces mushrooms, 1 ¼ cups sliced

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds or ground fennel, see notes

3 cups homemade pasta sauce or use 1 (28oz) jar of store-bought sauce

Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn or coarsely chopped

6 tablespoons (90g) ricotta cheese

2 cups (226g) shredded mozzarella cheese

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Directions

    1Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). If you have an oven-safe deep skillet, you can use it to cook the veggies on the stove and bake the pasta. If not, prepare a 3-quart baking dish by lightly greasing it with olive oil.

    2Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta. Check the package for the recommended cooking time, but cook the pasta two minutes less than the recommended time (it will continue to cook in the oven).

    3Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

    4While the pasta cooks, prepare the vegetables. Slice the onions and bell peppers into 1/4-inch thick slices.

    5Using a damp paper towel, brush off dirt from the mushrooms. Cut away and discard any hard stems. Chop into 1/4-inch slices or, if the mushrooms are larger, like portobello, cut into 1/4-inch cubes.

    6Heat a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then add the mushrooms in one layer, and cook until browned on one side for 3 to 5 minutes. Stir, then add the onions and peppers. Cook another 3 to 5 minutes or until the veggies soften and have some browned edges.

    7Season to taste with salt and black pepper (I usually add 1/4 teaspoon of each).

    8Stir the fennel, pasta sauce, and basil into the vegetables. If your skillet is large enough, toss in the pasta. If the mixture seems dry, add a splash of the reserved pasta water. Combine the sauce and pasta in a bowl if the skillet is too small. Adjust with pasta water, and then add to a baking dish.

    9Taste the pasta and adjust with more salt and pepper. Tuck spoonfuls of ricotta around the pasta and vegetables, then top with the mozzarella cheese.

    10Bake the pasta, uncovered, until the cheese melts and is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Fennel seeds: Adds a light licorice flavor to the pasta. I use whole fennel seeds, but crack them open first to release the oils. To use it whole, crack the seeds slightly using the heel of a chef’s knife or the bottom of a frying pan.
  • Vegan pasta bake: Leave the cheese out, and stir 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast into the sauce.
  • Leftover baked pasta: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • The nutrition facts provided below are estimates.
Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 1/8 of the dish / Calories 354 / Total Fat 5.9g / Saturated Fat 1.6g / Cholesterol 13mg / Sodium 731.4mg / Carbohydrate 54.5g / Dietary Fiber 5.2g / Total Sugars 8.9g / Protein 20.3g
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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13 comments… Leave a Review
  • Jan V December 12, 2022, 11:56 pm

    I had to sub veggies and cheese, but the overall idea is the same and we loved it. Many thanks!

    Reply
    • Saros Bar & Dining December 21, 2022, 11:52 pm

      The video sharing of the recipe, just makes the whole dish too easy to make, thanks for sharing it.

      Reply
  • JulesP August 2, 2021, 9:20 am

    I made this with my 12yo son and it was a winner. We used your marinara sauce as the base, which was delicious. We added some olives for a bit of extra flavour and texture, and had no ricotta so we substituted with Greek yoghurt. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Aashita Biyani June 30, 2021, 10:45 am

    At what temperature should it be baked? Thank you

    Reply
    • Adam June 30, 2021, 1:08 pm

      We bake the pasta in a 350° F oven. The full recipe is at the bottom of the article.

      Reply
  • Geraldine February 27, 2021, 12:26 am

    My friend served this to us last night. It was soooo delicious. I’ll try to make it myself too for my family

    Reply
  • Dean January 13, 2020, 6:50 pm

    Excellent recipe.

    Reply
  • Dean January 13, 2020, 8:20 am

    Quick Question: You said leave the pasta 2 minutes less then usual cook time. Should it still be hard?

    Reply
    • Joanne February 11, 2020, 12:17 pm

      The pasta should not be hard, but should be slightly undercooked. It will continue to cook in the sauce.

      Reply
  • Karen October 1, 2019, 9:07 pm

    Excellent.

    Reply
  • Karen October 1, 2019, 9:05 pm

    Had the easy vegetable bake for dinner and we loved it! Don’t like mushrooms so I subbed broccoli and added garlic as well. My husband had 3 helpings. Next time I think I’ll add some shredded carrots and cubed squash for something different. Thanks so much for a great recipe without meat for a nice change.

    Reply
  • Tanya April 19, 2019, 6:03 am

    Quick question where does the fennel seeds or powder go? Does it go in the pasta water?

    Reply
    • Joanne April 19, 2019, 12:55 pm

      Hi Tanya, We add the fennel at the same time as the marinara sauce. The instruction was left out of the recipe (sorry!). I just fixed it. Happy cooking!

      Reply

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