This Vegetable Pasta Bake is a family favourite and something I've been making for years. It's packed with veggies in a tasty tomato sauce, topped with lots of cheese and is perfect comfort food. It's ready in under an hour, making it perfect for a cosy weeknight dinner.
This vegetable pasta bake is packed with veggies, and cooked in a lovely rich tomato sauce. It's then topped with sharp mature cheddar, creamy mozzarella cheese and salty vegetarian parmesan and a very cheesy topping, this really is the perfect comfort food that the whole family love.
I've used peppers, mushroom and courgette (zucchini) in this baked pasta but you can, of course, choose your own veggies. This is a great dish for using up any veggies hanging around at the end of the week.
🛒 What You'll Need
- Pasta - I use Rigatoni pasta for this recipe, I love the way the sauce falls into the hollows of the pasta! You can also use Penne pasta or Fusilli pasta if you like.
- Vegetables - For this recipe, I've used yellow bell pepper, courgette (zucchini) and mushrooms. I like chestnut or brown mushrooms for this but white button mushrooms will work too. You can also use a red bell pepper if you want but I would avoid using a green bell pepper.
- For the sauce - you'll need one onion, two cans of chopped (diced) tomatoes, dried oregano, dried parsley, bay leaves, fresh thyme, red pepper flakes, garlic, tomato puree and balsamic vinegar. If you don't have all the herbs listed you can easily substitute them for Italian seasonings. Fresh basil also works really well in this, you can add it towards the end of cooking the sauce.
- Cheese - I add mature (sharp) cheddar cheese, fresh mozzarella cheese and vegetarian parmesan cheese. This is a bit of a treat so if you want to cut down on some of that cheesiness then you could skip some of the cheese or just have mozzarella.
🔪 How To Make Vegetable Pasta Bake
See the recipe card below for full instructions and ingredient list.
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes then add the vegetables. Cook for a few minutes until softened slightly. Then add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes over medium-high heat.
2. Next, add the garlic, cook for a minute then add the cans of chopped tomatoes, stir well then add the tomato puree and balsamic vinegar.
3. Add the bay leaves and thyme to the sauce. Season the sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat to low and leave the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes. Cook the pasta.
4. Drain the cooked pasta then tip it into a large casserole dish. Pour the sauce over the pasta and carefully mix everything together. Spread all the cheese over the top of the pasta. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. Leave to cool slightly before serving.
👩🍳 Top Tips
- Don't overcook the pasta, the pasta will cook in the sauce in the oven. It needs to just be al dente. If you overcook the pasta it can become a bit mushy.
- Add some pasta water to the sauce, this helps the sauce stick to the pasta.
- For a crispy topping don't cover the pasta bake when it goes in the oven. The crispy cheesy bits are the absolute best!
🍽 Serving Suggestions
We love this pasta bake with lots of homemade Garlic Bread. You could also serve this with a quick salad, like my vegetarian caesar salad. My garlic mushroom bruschetta also goes very well with this dish.
- Swap the veggies, and try adding green beans, sweetcorn or baby spinach. All will work really well in this dish.
- Make it with roasted veggies, try adding roasted yellow squash for a nutty flavour. A roasted red onion will add a lovely sweetness to this and is worth trying.
- Stir some sun-dried tomatoes or fresh cherry tomatoes into the pasta bake, this will intensify the tomato flavours.
- I sometimes add a tablespoon of pesto to the sauce to give it an extra lift. This is great for using up any leftover pesto.
Yes, I boil the pasta for this recipe. Everything is cooked before the pasta bake goes into the oven.
Yes, if you're in a hurry then you could use a pasta sauce for this. Marinara sauce or a tomato and herb sauce will work well.
Yes, any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and should be used within 3 days. For individual portions, I reheat this in the microwave.
🍝 More Tasty Vegetarian Pasta Bakes
We love a good vegetarian pasta bake and I have quite a few on here. Including my very popular Fajita Pasta Bake, this is such a tasty pasta dish which is a twist on fajitas. My Baked Cheese Tortellini is packed with flavour and so cheesy, it's one of my favourite pasta dishes right now. Another family favourite is my Spinach and Artichoke Pasta Bake, this is creamy, cheesy, and one of my favourite vegetarian recipes.
Vegetable Pasta Bake Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium brown onion finely chopped
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper pith and seeds removed and cut into chunks
- 1 medium courgette (zucchini) cut into chunks
- 300 g / 2½ cups of mushrooms I used brown mushrooms, sliced thickly or cut into quarters if small
- 4 cloves of garlic finely minced or put through a garlic press
- ½ tablespoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- ⅛ teaspoon dried red chilli flakes optional
- 2 x 400g / 2 x 14.5 oz cans of chopped (diced) tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 300 g / 3 ½ cups rigatoni pasta (dry weight) you can also use penne pasta if you wish
- 125 g / 1 x 8oz ball of fresh mozzarella
- 55 g / ¾ of a cup of mature (sharp) cheddar cheese grated weight
- 35 g / ⅓ of a cup of vegetarian parmesan style cheese grated weight
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground sea salt + a pinch of salt for cooking the onions
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper + more for serving
- Preheat the oven to 180°C / 355°F fan ovenHeat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion along with a pinch of salt and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the chopped peppers and courgettes and cook for a few minutes then add the sliced mushroom and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Once the vegetables have softened add the garlic, dried chilli flakes, dried oregano and dried parsley and cook for a minute until you can smell the garlic.Then pour in the chopped tomatoes. I swirl a little water in each can to catch any tomatoes left in the cans and add that to the pan. Stir well.Stir in the tomato puree and the balsamic vinegar.Add the bay leaves and sprigs of thyme and season with salt and black pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering cook the pasta according to the packet instructions minus 2 minutes.Drain the pasta when cooked but reserve two tablespoons of the pasta water first.Add the pasta water to the tomato sauce and stir well.
- Check the seasoning of the sauce. Take out the bay leaves and the sprigs of thyme.Tip the pasta into a large casserole dish, pour the sauce over the pasta and mix the past into the sauce.Spread all the grated cheese over the pasta, I start with the cheddar then add the parmesan and finish with the mozzarella.Place the casserole dish on a large baking tray and place it on the middle shelf of the oven, bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden and the sauce is bubbling at the edges.Leave to cool slightly before serving.
- Make ahead - this can be made up to 2 days in advance, keep it covered in the fridge until you are ready to cook it.
- Storage - Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and should be used within 3 days. You can freeze this but it is best made fresh.
- Nutritional Information - all nutritional information shared is an estimate based on third-party calculations. If calorie count and/or nutritional values are important to you, we recommend putting the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary depending on which brands were used. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.
- Weights and measurements - For US readers, I use Cuisipro measuring cups and spoons, and a Pyrex measuring jug for liquids. These are the industry standard. Cup/spoon volumes can differ from brand to brand, for accuracy, I recommend weighing all ingredients if possible for the best results.