Easy cheese and tomato pasta bake for nights where you want something delicious and comforting to eat but can’t be bothered to spend ages in the kitchen.
This cheese and tomato pasta bake recipe is a great cheat’s version of something meatier like my Bolognese pasta bake, which is equally delicious but requires a little more work. The tomato sauce used can be made in two ways. If you want a richer, more intense tomato flavour, roast off tomatoes (Plum or Roma tomatoes and cherry tomatoes work well) with aromatics until caramelized. You can then continue with the sauce method as below. If you want dinner in a flash, use a few cans of cherry tomatoes and call it a day. The flavor won’t be quite as concentrated but the end result will still be completely delectable.
This recipe is great to make ahead and freeze and the leftovers are particularly delicious doused in hot sauce the next day. Just saying.
How to make cheese and tomato pasta bake
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. To make the tomato sauce, cook onion and garlic in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add tomatoes, Balsamic vinegar, seasoning and stock or wine. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes while the pasta cooks. Drain the cooked pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Add the pasta to the tomato sauce and use the cooking water to thin out the sauce if necessary. Transfer half of the pasta to a baking dish then top with half of the grated mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Cover with the remaining pasta and cheese. Place in a pre-heated oven to bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese has melted and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve.
What pasta is best for pasta bake?
Any short pasta shape works well in pasta bake. The following will work well:
Can you freeze pasta bake?
Pasta bake freezes very well. To make ahead, assemble the pasta bake then cover well (before baking) with a layer of parchment paper and wrap tightly in plastic wrap in foil. Freeze for up to 3 months and bake from frozen. To freeze leftover pasta bake or baked pasta bake, place cooled pasta in a freezer safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw completely and re-heat in the oven.
Pasta bake recipes
- Pizza pasta bake
- Creamy mushroom pasta bake
- Classic baked mac and cheese
- Chicken Cordon Bleu pasta bake
- Roasted butternut and mozzarella pasta bake
Easy cheese and tomato pasta bake
for the tomato sauce
- 2 x 400g (14 oz) cans cherry tomatoes
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon Italian herbs
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika optional
- pinch of chilli flakes optional
- 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar to taste (optional)
- ½ cup vegetable stock/red wine
- salt & pepper to taste
for the pasta bake
- 500 g (1lb) short pasta of your choice (I used penne)
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- fresh basil to serve
- Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF.
- Fry the onion and garlic in a splash of olive oil until soft and translucent.
- Add the tomatoes, herbs, spices, Balsamic, sugar and stock/wine and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes while the pasta cooks. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta's cooking water.
- When the pasta is cooked and the sauce is reduced, combine and mix well. Add some of the cooking water saved from the pasta to loosen the pasta and sauce a bit.
- Transfer half the pasta mix to a baking dish, add half of the cheese. Repeat with the remaining pasta and cheese.
- Place the pasta in the pre-heated oven and allow to bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese on top is golden brown.
- Remove and allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving with fresh basil.