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Three-Cheese Baked Pasta Recipe

This three-cheese baked pasta recipe is an indulgent treat that beautifully combines the creaminess of ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan with a rich homemade tomato and bell pepper sauce. The combination of cheeses gives it an unforgettable taste and texture, making it a perfect dish for cheese lovers. Its presentation is sure to impress, and the aroma it fills your kitchen with is simply irresistible.

Three-Cheese Baked Pasta Recipe
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The ingredients for this recipe are quite straightforward and can be easily found in your local supermarket. However, you might want to pay special attention to the trenne pasta. Trenne is a tubular pasta that's triangular in cross-section. It holds sauces wonderfully and adds an interesting texture to the dish. If you can't find trenne, penne or rigatoni would work just as well. Also, ensure you get fresh ricotta and mozzarella for the best results. Canned plum tomatoes are also used in this recipe. They have a sweet, vibrant flavor and are perfect for the sauce.

Ingredients for the Three-Cheese Baked Pasta

Extra virgin olive oil: An essential in Italian cooking, it adds a depth of flavor.

Red bell peppers: Adds a sweet, slightly smoky flavor.

Onion: Provides a savory depth to the sauce.

Garlic: Adds a robust flavor to the sauce.

Salt and freshly ground pepper: For seasoning.

Chipotle powder: Gives a smoky, spicy kick.

Plum tomatoes: Forms the base of the sauce.

Fresh ricotta cheese: Brings creaminess to the dish.

Parmesan cheese: Adds a sharp, salty flavor.

Fresh mozzarella: Melts beautifully, adding a gooey texture.

Trenne pasta: A unique pasta shape that holds the sauce well.

Unsalted butter: Adds richness and helps with browning.

One reader, Janos Segal says:

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This three-cheese baked pasta recipe is a game-changer! The combination of ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella creates a rich and creamy texture that's simply irresistible. The chipotle-infused tomato sauce adds a delightful kick. It's a crowd-pleaser and a definite must-try for all pasta lovers!

Janos Segal

Essential Techniques for Making Three-Cheese Baked Pasta

How to prepare the sauce: The sauce is prepared by cooking the red bell peppers, onion, and garlic in olive oil, then adding chipotle powder and plum tomatoes. The mixture is then pureed and strained before being seasoned and kept warm.

How to mix the ricotta cheese: The ricotta cheese is mixed with minced garlic, parmesan, and mozzarella, then seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.

How to cook the pasta: The pasta is cooked in boiling salted water until almost al dente, then drained and tossed with 2 cups of the prepared sauce.

How to bake the pasta: The pasta is spread in a buttered baking dish, topped with the ricotta mixture, drizzled with melted butter, and sprinkled with parmesan. It is then baked covered with foil for 25 minutes at 375 degrees F, followed by 2 minutes under the broiler until the topping is evenly browned.

How to serve: Let the baked pasta stand for 5 minutes before serving with the remaining sauce.

How To Make Three-Cheese Baked Pasta

With mozzarella, parmesan, and ricotta, amp your baked pasta game with this easy recipe for the cheesiest dish that will surely be a new family favorite.

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes

Serves:

Ingredients

  • ¼cupextra virgin olive oil
  • 4red bell peppers
  • 1large onion
  • 6clovesgarlic
  • salt and freshly ground pepper,as needed
  • 1tspchipotle powder
  • 28ozplum tomatoes,(1 can)
  • 3cupsfresh ricotta cheese
  • ¾cupparmesan cheese,freshly grated
  • ½cupfresh mozzarella,shredded
  • 1lbtrenne pasta,or rigatoni
  • 1tbspunsalted butter,melted

Instructions

  1. In a medium-sized, enameled, cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Add the peppers, onion, halved garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes until the vegetables soften.

  2. Add the chipotle powder and cook uncovered, stirring, for 5 minutes until the vegetables are lightly browned.

  3. Add the tomatoes and their juices, cover, and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Scrape the sauce into a food processor and puree. Wipe out the casserole. Strain the sauce into it and season with salt; keep warm.

  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 10×14-inch glass baking dish. In a bowl, mix the ricotta with minced garlic, ½ cup of Parmesan, and mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

  5. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until almost al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot, then toss with 2 cups of the sauce.

  6. Spread the pasta in the baking dish, then spread the ricotta mixture on top and drizzle with the melted butter. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top. Cover the pasta with foil and bake for 25 minutes, or until hot.

  7. Preheat the broiler. Uncover the pasta and broil 4 inches from the heat for 2 minutes, or until the topping is evenly browned.

  8. Let stand for 5 minutes, then serve with the remaining sauce. Enjoy!

Nutrition

  • Calories: 761.38kcal
  • Fat: 35.70g
  • Saturated Fat: 17.33g
  • Trans Fat: 0.08g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 13.77g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.33g
  • Carbohydrates: 75.42g
  • Fiber: 6.68g
  • Sugar: 10.54g
  • Protein: 35.18g
  • Cholesterol: 88.34mg
  • Sodium: 1117.17mg
  • Calcium: 578.66mg
  • Potassium: 881.12mg
  • Iron: 2.72mg
  • Vitamin A: 407.35µg
  • Vitamin C: 122.22mg

Crucial Technique for Perfecting Your Baked Pasta

When preparing the ricotta mixture, ensure that the garlic is minced very finely to distribute its flavor evenly throughout the cheese. This will also prevent any large, overpowering chunks of garlic in the final dish. Additionally, when melting the butter to drizzle on top of the pasta, be careful not to overheat it as it can easily burn. A gentle heat will suffice to melt the butter without altering its taste.

Time-Saving Tips for Preparing Baked Pasta Dishes

Prep ahead: Chop and prepare all the vegetables and cheese the night before to save time on the day of cooking.

Use store-bought sauce: To save time, consider using a high-quality store-bought marinara sauce instead of making the sauce from scratch.

Boil pasta in advance: Cook the pasta a day ahead and toss it with a little oil to prevent sticking. This will save time on the day of baking.

Multi-task: While the sauce is simmering, prepare the cheese mixture and boil the pasta to maximize efficiency in the kitchen.

Invest in a food processor: Use a food processor to quickly puree the tomato sauce, saving time and effort compared to manual methods.

Bake in advance: Consider baking the dish a day ahead and reheating it before serving to save time on the day of the meal.

Organize ingredients: Before starting the recipe, organize all the ingredients and equipment to streamline the cooking process.

Delegate: Enlist the help of family or friends to assist with the preparation, making the process more efficient and enjoyable.

Substitute Ingredients For Three-Cheese Baked Pasta Recipe

  • extra virgin olive oil - Substitute with avocado oil: Avocado oil has a similar high smoke point and mild flavor, making it a suitable substitute for extra virgin olive oil in this recipe.

  • red bell peppers - Substitute with yellow bell peppers: Yellow bell peppers can be used as a substitute for red bell peppers, providing a slightly sweeter flavor and vibrant color to the dish.

  • onion - Substitute with shallots: Shallots can be used as a substitute for onions, offering a milder and slightly sweeter flavor profile.

  • garlic - Substitute with garlic powder: Garlic powder can be used as a substitute for fresh garlic, providing a convenient alternative with a milder flavor.

  • plum tomatoes - Substitute with canned diced tomatoes: Canned diced tomatoes can be used as a substitute for plum tomatoes, offering convenience and a similar texture for the sauce.

  • fresh ricotta cheese - Substitute with cottage cheese: Cottage cheese can be used as a substitute for ricotta cheese, providing a similar creamy texture and mild flavor.

  • parmesan cheese - Substitute with pecorino Romano cheese: Pecorino Romano cheese can be used as a substitute for parmesan cheese, offering a slightly sharper and saltier flavor.

  • fresh mozzarella - Substitute with provolone cheese: Provolone cheese can be used as a substitute for fresh mozzarella, providing a mild and creamy texture when melted.

  • trenne pasta - Substitute with penne pasta: Penne pasta can be used as a substitute for trenne pasta, offering a similar shape and texture for the baked dish.

  • unsalted butter - Substitute with ghee: Ghee can be used as a substitute for unsalted butter, providing a rich and nutty flavor to the dish.

Presenting Your Cheesy Baked Pasta Creation

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting the three-cheese baked pasta, focus on creating an elegant and visually appealing presentation. Use a large, white, rectangular plate to showcase the vibrant colors and layers of the dish.

  2. Garnish with fresh herbs: Add a touch of freshness and color by garnishing the baked pasta with a sprinkle of freshly chopped basil and parsley. This will not only enhance the visual appeal but also add a pop of flavor to the dish.

  3. Incorporate edible flowers: Introduce a touch of sophistication by delicately placing a few edible flowers, such as nasturtiums or violas, on the plate. The vibrant hues of the flowers will complement the rich colors of the dish, creating a stunning visual impact.

  4. Use high-quality serving utensils: Opt for sleek and modern serving utensils, such as polished stainless steel tongs or a stylish pasta server, to add a touch of refinement to the presentation.

  5. Create a clean, organized layout: Arrange the pasta neatly on the plate, ensuring that each component is thoughtfully placed to create a visually appealing and organized presentation. Pay attention to symmetry and balance in the plating arrangement.

  6. Accentuate with drizzles: Before serving, add a subtle drizzle of balsamic glaze around the edge of the plate for a sophisticated finishing touch. The drizzle not only adds a hint of sweetness but also elevates the overall presentation.

  7. Consider individual ramekins: For a more personalized presentation, consider serving the baked pasta in individual ceramic ramekins. This adds a touch of elegance and allows each guest to enjoy their own perfectly portioned serving.

  8. Highlight with microgreens: Sprinkle a few delicate microgreens over the top of the baked pasta just before serving. The vibrant greens will provide a beautiful contrast and a touch of refinement to the dish.

Essential Tools for Making Baked Pasta

  • Medium-sized, enameled, cast-iron casserole: This type of casserole is ideal for cooking the vegetables and sauce due to its even heat distribution and durability.

  • Food processor: A food processor is used to puree the tomato sauce, creating a smooth and consistent texture.

  • Glass baking dish: A glass baking dish is perfect for baking the pasta as it allows for even heat distribution and easy monitoring of the browning process.

  • Large pot: A large pot is essential for boiling the pasta, providing enough space for the pasta to cook evenly.

  • Mixing bowl: A mixing bowl is used to combine the ricotta, garlic, parmesan, and mozzarella, ensuring the cheese mixture is well blended and seasoned.

  • Strainer: A strainer is used to strain the pureed tomato sauce, removing any lumps or seeds and creating a smooth sauce.

  • Foil: Foil is used to cover the baking dish during the initial baking process, helping to trap heat and cook the pasta evenly.

  • Oven: The oven is used for baking and broiling the pasta, ensuring it is heated through and achieving a golden brown topping.

Storing and Freezing Your Baked Pasta Creation

  • Allow the baked pasta to cool completely before storing or freezing. This will prevent condensation from forming and making the dish soggy.

  • To store in the refrigerator, transfer the cooled pasta to an airtight container or cover the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

  • For longer storage, you can freeze the baked pasta:

    • Divide the cooled pasta into individual portions or freeze the entire dish, depending on your preference.
    • Wrap the portions or dish tightly in plastic wrap, then cover with a layer of aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn.
    • Label the package with the date and contents for easy identification.
    • Freeze for up to 2 months.
  • To reheat the baked pasta from the refrigerator:

    • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
    • Remove the plastic wrap or aluminum foil and cover the dish with a fresh piece of foil.
    • Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until heated through.
  • To reheat the frozen baked pasta:

    • Thaw the pasta in the refrigerator overnight.
    • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
    • Remove the plastic wrap and cover the dish with aluminum foil.
    • Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until heated through and bubbly.
    • If baking from frozen, increase the baking time to 45-60 minutes.
  • If you have extra tomato sauce, store it separately in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

How To Reheat Leftover Baked Pasta

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the leftover three-cheese baked pasta in an oven-safe dish and cover it with aluminum foil. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pasta is heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove the foil for the last 5 minutes of baking to allow the top to brown slightly.

  • For a quicker method, reheat individual portions of the baked pasta in the microwave. Place a single serving on a microwave-safe plate and heat it on high power for 1-2 minutes, or until the pasta is hot and the cheese is melted. Stir the pasta halfway through the reheating process to ensure even heating.

  • If you have a large amount of leftover pasta, you can reheat it on the stovetop. Transfer the pasta to a large skillet or saucepan and add a splash of milk or cream to help loosen the sauce. Heat the pasta over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it is warmed through and the cheese is melted. Add more milk or cream as needed to achieve the desired consistency.

  • For a crispy top, reheat the three-cheese baked pasta in the oven as directed above, but remove the foil for the last 5-10 minutes of baking. You can also sprinkle some extra grated parmesan cheese or breadcrumbs on top before baking for added texture and flavor.

  • If the leftover pasta seems dry, add a small amount of tomato sauce or reserved pasta sauce before reheating to help moisten it. You can also drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top to prevent the pasta from drying out during the reheating process.

Interesting Trivia About Baked Pasta Dishes

The Three-Cheese Baked Pasta recipe is a delicious and comforting dish that combines the flavors of ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella cheese. It's a perfect meal for a cozy family dinner or a gathering with friends. This dish is a great source of calcium and protein, making it a satisfying and nutritious option. Additionally, the combination of chipotle powder and roasted red peppers adds a unique and smoky flavor to the dish, elevating its taste profile. Enjoying this pasta dish can be a delightful experience for anyone who appreciates a hearty and flavorful meal.

Is Making Three-Cheese Baked Pasta at Home Cost-Effective?

This three-cheese baked pasta recipe offers a high degree of cost-effectiveness for a household. The combination of ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and mozzarella provides a rich and satisfying flavor. The use of red bell peppers and plum tomatoes adds depth and nutrition. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $20, making it an affordable and hearty meal. The overall verdict rating for this recipe is 9 out of 10, considering its taste, nutritional value, and affordability.

Is This Cheesy Baked Pasta Dish Healthy or Not?

The three-cheese baked pasta recipe is a delicious and comforting dish, but it may not be the healthiest option due to its high content of cheese and refined carbohydrates. The recipe includes a significant amount of ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella cheeses, which are high in saturated fat and calories. Additionally, the pasta used in the recipe is likely made from refined flour, which has been stripped of its fiber and nutrients.

However, the recipe does include some healthy ingredients, such as red bell peppers, onions, and garlic, which provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The use of plum tomatoes in the sauce also adds some nutritional value, as tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C and lycopene.

To make this recipe healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Use whole wheat or legume-based pasta instead of regular pasta to increase the fiber and protein content
  • Reduce the amount of cheese used in the recipe, or opt for low-fat versions of ricotta and mozzarella
  • Include more vegetables in the sauce, such as zucchini, spinach, or mushrooms, to boost the nutritional value and fiber content
  • Use a smaller portion of pasta and serve it with a side salad or roasted vegetables to balance the meal
  • Replace some of the cheese with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast, which provides a cheesy flavor along with B vitamins and protein

Our Editor's Opinion on This Cheesy Baked Pasta Recipe

The three-cheese baked pasta recipe is a delightful combination of flavors and textures. The roasted red pepper sauce adds a smoky sweetness, complementing the creamy richness of the three cheeses. The chipotle powder provides a subtle heat, elevating the dish without overpowering the other flavors. The use of trenne pasta allows the sauce to cling to its ridges, ensuring each bite is bursting with flavor. The final touch of broiling creates a golden, crispy topping that adds a delightful contrast to the creamy pasta. This recipe is a perfect balance of comfort and sophistication, sure to impress any pasta lover.

Enhance Your Three-Cheese Baked Pasta Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Garlic Bread: Savory garlic breadsticks with a hint of parmesan and herbs, perfect for dipping in the rich three-cheese baked pasta sauce.
Grilled Vegetables: A colorful medley of grilled vegetables, lightly seasoned and charred to perfection, complementing the creamy and indulgent three-cheese baked pasta.
Mixed Green Salad: A refreshing mixed green salad with a zesty lemon vinaigrette, providing a light and crisp contrast to the hearty three-cheese baked pasta.

Similar Recipes to Try If You Love Baked Pasta

Creamy Chicken Alfredo: This creamy chicken alfredo recipe is a classic Italian dish that combines tender chicken, al dente pasta, and a rich, cheesy sauce. It's the perfect comfort food for a cozy night in.
Mango Salsa Chicken: This mango salsa chicken recipe is a refreshing and flavorful dish that combines juicy chicken breasts with a zesty mango salsa. It's a perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors that will tantalize your taste buds.
Butternut Squash Soup: This butternut squash soup recipe is a velvety and comforting soup that's perfect for chilly days. It's made with roasted butternut squash, aromatic spices, and a touch of cream for a luxurious finish.
Berry Cobbler: This berry cobbler recipe is a delightful dessert that showcases the natural sweetness of fresh berries. The buttery, golden crust pairs perfectly with the juicy, tart berries for a delightful treat.

Perfect Appetizers and Desserts for Your Baked Pasta Meal

Appetizers:
Stuffed Mushrooms: Start your meal with a delightful bite of savory stuffed mushrooms. These bite-sized appetizers are filled with a flavorful mixture of cheese, herbs, and breadcrumbs, creating a perfect balance of textures and tastes.
Bruschetta: Kick off your meal with a classic Italian appetizer of bruschetta. Toasted bread topped with a vibrant mixture of ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil is sure to awaken your taste buds and leave you craving for more.
Desserts:
Chocolate Lava Cake: Indulge in a decadent, rich chocolate lava cake that oozes with a molten center when you dig your fork into it. Pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for the perfect balance of warm and cold, and top it off with a dusting of powdered sugar for a touch of sweetness.
Strawberry Cheesecake: Create a creamy and luscious strawberry cheesecake with a buttery graham cracker crust. Top it with a vibrant strawberry glaze and fresh sliced strawberries for a burst of fruity flavor. Serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream for an extra touch of indulgence.

Why trust this Three-Cheese Baked Pasta Recipe:

This three-cheese baked pasta recipe is a testament to the power of real ingredients. The combination of ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and mozzarella creates a rich and indulgent flavor profile. The use of fresh bell peppers and plum tomatoes ensures a vibrant and robust sauce. The careful layering of flavors and textures, from the savory sauce to the creamy cheese mixture, promises a satisfying dining experience. Trust in the quality of the ingredients and the thoughtful preparation to deliver a truly exceptional baked pasta dish.

Want to share your own cheesy pasta recipe or discuss this three-cheese baked pasta dish further? Head over to the Recipe Sharing section of our forum and join the conversation!
FAQ:
Can I use different types of pasta for this recipe?
Yes, you can definitely use different types of pasta for this recipe. Feel free to experiment with your favorite pasta shapes, such as penne, rigatoni, or fusilli.
Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
Absolutely! You can prepare the baked pasta ahead of time and refrigerate it. When you're ready to serve, simply reheat it in the oven until it's heated through.
Can I substitute the types of cheese used in the recipe?
Certainly! You can customize the cheese blend to your preference. Try using different combinations of cheeses like fontina, provolone, or asiago to create your own unique flavor profile.
Can I make this recipe vegetarian?
Yes, this recipe can easily be made vegetarian by omitting the butter and ensuring that the cheese you use is vegetarian-friendly. You can also add in some sautéed vegetables like zucchini, mushrooms, or spinach for extra flavor.
Can I freeze the leftovers?
Absolutely! You can freeze the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months. When you're ready to enjoy it, simply thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it in the oven until it's warmed through.

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