An easy and vegetable packed pasta dish that the whole family will love. A rich tomato sauce that is bursting with chunky vegetables, mixed in with pasta and topped with 3 cheeses and baked until crispy. Now that is our kind of comfort food! This vegetable pasta bake is cheesy, it's hearty and it has lots of vegetables. What's not to love?
If you are wanting to eat more vegetarian recipes, but still want something with lots of texture and flavour then this is the dish for you. Even meat eaters will be impressed. This vegetable pasta bake is a great way to use up the vegetables in your fridge that are looking a bit sad. Frying them and adding them to this sauce really brings them to life.
If you are looking for some other pasta bake recipes to try, then why not try our Sausage Pasta Bake, Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake, Broccoli Pasta Bake, Bolognese Pasta Bake, Meatball Pasta Bake or Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake.
Why should you try it?
- Hearty comfort food - This is a meal that your whole family will love - a great easy midweek meal.
- Veggie packed - Unlike a lot of pasta bake recipes, this one is packed with vegetables and it's a delicious meat free meal.
- Adaptable - It is easy to add lots of different vegetables to this and you can adapt it to use what you have.
- Freezes really well - Make extra of this as it freezes really well. Perfect to pull out of the freezer on busy nights.
- Can add extra protein - This can be made with sausages or even some leftover shredded chicken.
- Pasta - You can use any pasta shapes for this, so it's a great way to use what you have. We used penne, because all the sauce gets inside the pasta. Rigatoni will also work well.
- Courgette (zucchini) - This adds lots of colour to the pasta bake.
- Pepper - Any colour bell pepper works, or even a mixture.
- Aubergine - If you are unsure what to do with aubergine, or even if you are not a big fan, then this is a good way to use it. Make sure you chop it up small.
- Garlic - Freshly crushed is always best, but you can use ready crushed garlic in a jar if you prefer. Make sure it is finely crushed, almost like a paste, as this will ensure even distribution of the garlic in the sauce.
- Cherry Tomatoes - These add some extra juiciness to the sauce.
- Sun-dried Tomatoes - An easy way to add a real burst of tomato flavour to the sauce. Add a little drizzle of the oil from the jar for some extra flavour too.
- Stock - This helps to add a little extra sauce. Use low salt if you are making this for younger children and use vegetable stock if you want to keep this vegetarian.
- Balsamic Vinegar - This is always my (not so) secret ingredient in pasta sauces. It adds SO much flavour and a touch of sweetness too. Try to use the best quality one you can, as you will be able to taste the difference.
- Tomato puree - This helps to thicken up the sauce and add some more tomato flavour.
- Basil - We added some dried basil in to the pasta sauce (you could use oregano instead) and then some fresh basil on top before serving to lighten the whole thing up.
- Canned tomatoes - This is where the majority of sauce comes from. We used chopped tomatoes and try to use the best quality ones you can because the cheaper ones tend to be really watery and you will get a watery sauce which won't have as much flavour.
- Spinach - This is an easy way to give a green vegetable boost to your pasta sauces. Just stir it in towards the end.
- Cheese - We have gone all out with the cheese, with a mixture of mozzarella, Parmesan and cheddar. Try to use a mature cheddar, as a little goes a long way.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
Step by step
One: Add the pasta to a pan of boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes. Preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7.
Two: Heat the oil in a large pan and add the courgette (zucchini), pepper and aubergine (eggplant). Cook until softened - about 4-5 minutes.
Three: Add the garlic, cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. Then add the stock, balsamic vinegar, tomato puree and dried basil. Add the chopped tomatoes. Mix well and bring to the boil. Simmer for 3-4 minutes.
Four: Add the spinach. Continue to heat until the spinach has wilted.
Five: Drain the pasta (reserving 60ml/0.25 cup of the water). Add the pasta to the pan with the reserved water and mix so that all the pasta is coated.
Six: Transfer to a large baking dish and cover with the three cheeses.
Seven: Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Serve topped with fresh basil.
This vegetable pasta bake really isn't missing the meat, however if you did want to add some meat to it then cooked and chopped sausages or shredded cooked chicken work well.
Pretty much any vegetables go in this pasta bake. But we would recommend keeping it to quick cook vegetables as this has a quick cooking time and root vegetables like carrots wouldn't cook in time. Peas and sweetcorn are a great addition to this, and they always go down well with kids. You could also add green beans, asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower. If you live with fussy eaters, then you could always blend the sauce up and stir it through the pasta, which would hide the vegetables.
If you want to make this a bit heartier, then some Roasted Butternut Squash is delicious in this vegetable pasta bake.
Pasta dishes that are creamy are twice as comforting in my opinion. You can stir through a couple of tablespoons of crème fraiche before everything goes in the oven - it will really this dish to the next level.
If you want to make the cheesy topping a little bit crispier, then mix some panko breadcrumbs with the Parmesan and cheddar and sprinkle it on top of the mozzarella.
What to serve with Vegetable Pasta Bake
This is a pretty filling meal by itself and it has all the vegetables already in it. However, if we are trying to make it go a little further, then we love serving up some garlic bread with it. Either buy some ready made, or make your own easy garlic bread by cutting up some French stick and spreading it with a mix of butter, crushed garlic and dried herbs. Then pop it in the oven for 10 minutes. Why not try our Cheesy Garlic Bread recipe?
As well as garlic bread, you can bulk the meal out with a big green salad. The key to an epic green salad is to use a variety of greens, like romaine, spinach, kale and rocket. You want leafy greens, but crunch too. Then you need the perfect dressing. Why not try our Lemon Vinaigrette, Honey and Mustard Dressing or Tomato and Basil Vinaigrette. You could also try our Grilled Little Gem Salad.
Store: This is an ideal batch cooking dish, so it makes a great leftovers dinner. They will keep in an air tight container in the fridge for a couple of days.
Freeze: You can portion it out in to freeze containers and freeze for up to 3 months.
Defrost: Make sure to defrost thoroughly in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Reheat: You can either reheat it in the microwave for a couple of minutes or in the oven for about 10 minutes. Make sure it is piping hot before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
You need to cook the pasta before it gets mixed in with everything else, because there is not enough liquid and there is not enough cooking time to cook the pasta.
There are 648 calories in a generous portion of this. You can lower the calories by using less pasta and bulking it out with mushrooms and using less cheese on top.
To make this recipe gluten free, use your favourite brand of gluten free pasta. You also need to make sure that there isn't any cross contamination.
You can easily double this recipe and it doesn't change the cooking time. Just make sure that you have a big enough baking dish to hold double the ingredients.
Yes, you can cook the pasta and vegetable sauce and allow them both to cool down, then assemble the pasta bake but leave the cheese off it and then put it in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to cook it (make sure it is defrosted if it has been frozen). Then you can top it with cheese and cook it.
More easy vegetarian recipes
Vegetable Pasta Bake
- 125 g (4.5 oz) Pasta
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 1 Bell peppers - diced
- 1 Courgette (zucchini) - quartered lengthways and sliced
- 1 Aubergine (eggplant) - small; diced
- 40 g (0.33 cups) Sun-dried tomatoes - diced
- 2 Garlic clove - crushed
- 90 g (0.66 cups) Cherry tomatoes - halved
- 100 ml (0.5 cups) Vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon Dried basil
- 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Tomato puree
- 200 g (7 oz) Chopped tomatoes - canned
- 60 g (2 cups) Spinach
- 50 ml (0.25 cups) Pasta water
- 60 g (2 oz) mozzarella - torn into small pieces
- 40 g (1.5 oz) Cheddar cheese - grated
- 30 g (1 oz) Parmesan - finely grated
- 5 g (0.25 oz) Fresh basil - finely chopped
- Add 125 g Pasta to a pan of boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes. Preheat your oven to 220°C/200°C(fan)/425°F/Gas 7.
- Heat 1 tablespoon Olive oil in a large pan and add 1 Courgette (zucchini), 1 Bell peppers and 1 Aubergine (eggplant). Cook until softened - about 4-5 minutes.
- Add 2 Garlic clove, 90 g Cherry tomatoes and 40 g Sun-dried tomatoes. Then add 100 ml Vegetable stock, 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon Tomato puree and 1 teaspoon Dried basil.
- Add 200 g Chopped tomatoes. Mix well and bring to the boil. Simmer for 3-4 minutes.
- Add 60 g Spinach. Continue to heat until the spinach has wilted.
- Drain the pasta (reserving 50 ml Pasta water). Add the pasta to the pan with the reserved water and mix so that all the pasta is coated.
- Transfer to a large baking dish and cover with 60 g mozzarella, 40 g Cheddar cheese and 30 g Parmesan.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Serve topped with 5 g Fresh basil.
- This dish is a great opportunity to use leftover cheese or any vegetables you have that need using. So feel free to swap ingredients around.
- Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- To make this gluten free, use gluten free pasta.
- Make sure all the vegetables are chopped up really small, so they all cook well. You can use a chopping attachment on a food processor if you want to make it a bit easier.
- If you want the top of this pasta bake to go really crispy, then you can put it under the grill (broiler) for a couple of minutes.
- Reserve a little of the pasta water to add to the sauce to make it nice and silky.
- Make sure you don't fully cook the pasta, as it will cook a bit more in the oven and you don't want it going mushy.
- We have made our own pasta sauce for this recipe, as we think it is worth the effort. However, you could use your favourite jar of pasta sauce instead, and make this a super easy meal. You might need to adjust the garlic and herbs though, depending on what pasta sauce you are using.
- Feel free to use different types of pasta if you already have some in your cupboard.
- For a spicier version of this, you can add a pinch of red chilli flakes.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.