For the last few years I have been making this simple baked pasta dish. It only takes 15 minutes or so to put together. The kids love it and it’s easy to do with pantry ingredients. It’s also really versatile, you can put almost anything in it. So those stray carrots or half empty bag of spinach can get used up. Most baked pasta dishes have you pre-cook the pasta, but that is such a pain, and especially for gluten free pasta, it normally falls apart if you try to cook it twice, so I developed a method to make it without having to pre-cook the pasta.
1 box of your favorite Gluten Free pasta (we like Trader Joes’s, Tinkyada, Jovial and other brown rice/quinoa blends), uncooked
1 Jar of gluten free pasta sauce (Trader Joe’s 3 Cheese is good, but any kind will do. We have also enjoyed Barilla’s Bacon and Cheese pasta sauce lately)
2 Cups of mozzarella cheese (a blend of any cheese is fine too: cheddar, colby jack, monterey jack, Parmesan, ricotta etc. whatever you have sitting in the fridge will work)
1 pound of cooked ground turkey or package of chicken sausage, diced (you can also leave the meat out)
1/2 bag of baby spinach or other leafy green
1 zucchini diced
Any other vegetables you have in the fridge that you need to use up. We have used diced carrots, beets (really, they are delicious in this!), mushrooms, onions, potatoes (cut fine so they cook properly), yellow squash. Anything you would use in a regular pasta dish/sauce you can use here.
Dump the pasta in a large 9X13 pan, dump the entire jar of sauce into the pan also, now here is the trick. Re-fill the jar of pasta with water, yes the whole jar, and add that to the pan too. I promise that this will not be too much water. Stir so that the pasta gets coated. Now add your other ingredients, saving a cup or so of cheese, and stir so that everything looks nice and mixed up. I also like to squish down any pieces of pasta that are sticking up to make sure they get fully cooked. Sprinkle the last cup of cheese on top. Tightly cover with foil, you want to make sure the edges are sealed so no moisture can escape. Cook in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. I’ve experimented with oven time and temperatures and it always takes 1 hour, any less and the pasta doesn’t cook. So while the cook time is long the prep time is usually 15 minutes at most, depending on how many veggies you have to chop. Once time is up, take the dish out of the oven and carefully peel the foil back, a lot of steam will escape so be careful you don’t burn yourself. You can pull out of piece of pasta to test for done-ness and bake, covered for 15 more minutes if needed. If the dish still has a lot of liquid in it (mine usually doesn’t) you can remove the foil and bake an extra 10 minutes or so uncovered.