Quick and Easy Baked Pasta Dishes

September 19, 2012  •  One Dish Meals, Pasta & Pizza

Because I’m a cooking teacher here in Colorado, I often get asked what are my favorite types of recipes to cook and what do I make for dinner at home. Truth is that I love to cook almost anything – from a complicated classical French dish to a simple soup or salad. But when it comes to a weeknight dinner for just me and my husband, whose tastes run to simpler and more rustic food, I often gravitate to a simple pasta dish.A baked pasta dish is infinitely versatile: vegetarian or with meat, using just about any ingredients you want, a great way to sneak more vegetables into your family’s diet, a perfect solution for using up a little of this and that in your refrigerator and freezer, and even gluten free with the wide selection of gluten free pastas available today. The process is simple too. Cook your ingredients – in this recipe I roasted eggplant until just about dry (I don’t like the mushiness) – and mix that together with pasta cooked very al dente and some sauce. Throw in anything aromatic like some basil……and dump the whole mixture into a baking dish. Top with cheese if you want (yes, please, for us!), cover with foil, and bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes. Honestly, could that be any simpler?

You know what else is great about baked pasta dishes? You can let them cool, divide into single serving portions, wrapping each portion in plastic wrap, and freeze them for leftovers. I know how families are running during the school year – and often one of you are left trying to fend for yourself for a meal thanks to our overly busy schedules. Doesn’t a quickly thawed and heated up serving of a baked pasta dish sound just sooooooo much tastier and healthier than some drive through fast food? Give it a try and let me know what your favorite ingredients are!

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