A delicious caprese pasta bake covered in creamy tomato sauce and bubbly mozzarella. This easy 30-minute meal is the perfect way to use up fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden!
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Cheesy Baked Caprese Pasta
Today I’m going to share a super yummy recipe with you…a caprese pasta bake! Caprese salad is my absolute favorite and this dish combines those delicious flavors with my love of pasta. It reminds me of baked ziti or baked mostaccioli, but with a caprese twist. It’s creamy, cheesy and full of flavor from the fresh tomatoes and basil.
This is a great vegetarian dish to make for Meatless Monday, although you could absolutely add ground beef or chicken if you want to bulk it up a little. My family doesn’t even miss the meat and always raves over this meal. Trust me, yours will too! So many delicious flavors wrapped up in this recipe!
Tips + Variations
- Salt the water. Add a teaspoon of kosher salt to the pot of water when boiling the pasta. It’s a simple way to pack in a little more flavor and trust me, it makes a difference!
- Cook noodles al dente. I usually boil the noodles until they are cooked al dente. This way they don’t get too mushy after baking in the oven. They come out perfectly tender and delicious!
- Add meat. Add 1/2 pound cooked ground beef, chicken or Italian sausage to add more heartiness to this meal.
- Lighten it up. Swap the heavy cream for half and half, or leave it out all together.
- Homemade marinara. If you have the time, making a homemade marinara sauce can really take this dish up a notch. It tastes so fresh and delicious!
- Finish it off. For the ultimate caprese flavor, add a drizzle of balsamic glaze right before serving.
Sure! A few Tablespoons of basil pesto would another layer of flavor to the Caprese pasta
Fresh mozzarella cut into cubes is best! You can find a large ball of fresh mozzarella usually in the produce department of most grocery stores.
Spinach leaves would add a bright pop of color and nutrition!
Any hollow pasta in the shape of a tube works great to soak up all the sauce! Penne, ziti and rigatoni would all work best.
How to Freeze Pasta Caprese
This recipe works best when frozen before baking. Simply boil the noodles, then mix with the sauce and prepare in the baking dish as directed. Let cool completely, then cover the dish tightly with foil. Place in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, thaw in the fridge overnight and then bake in the oven according to the instructions.
More Delicious Pasta Dishes
Caprese Pasta Bake
- 1 pound ziti pasta , penne or rigatoni
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 2-5 ounces mozzarella cheese , cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 cup grape tomatoes , halved
- fresh basil leaves , chopped
- Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 9×9" baking dish with nonstick spray. Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot of water with 1 teaspoon salt. Once pasta is fully cooked, drain and place back in pot.
- Once noodles are done cooking, add in the sauce, heavy cream and parmesan cheese.
- Stir in mozzarella and tomatoes (saving some for the top). Then pour pasta mixture into baking dish and top with remaining cheese and tomatoes.
- Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Top with freshly chopped basil. Enjoy!
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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