A pasta bake is a wonderful thing. You make it for dinner one night and can enjoy the leftovers for lunches and quick meals during the entire following week. Any odds and ends from the fridge can be folded into the casserole and are all the better for it. And baking one on a chilly night makes the kitchen a warm and cozy place, drawing everyone in the house with its mouthwatering aromas and promise of a very good dinner.
Pasta casseroles have a reputation for being indulgent cheese-laden comfort foods, but this doesn't necessarily have to be the case. In fact, a casserole like this is a great place to pack in a lot of vegetables, like our Double-Spinach Pasta Casserole or the Pumpkin and Ricotta Pasta Casserole. Also, check out the Big Hearted Macaroni and Cheese for a clever way to add creaminess with a few onces of silken tofu.
This said, cheese really does make a pasta casserole what it is. We won't tell if you add an extra handful of cheddar or sprinkle a little more Parmesan over the top.
Here are our ten most favorite pasta bakes, full of everything from goat cheese and chard to prosciutto and mozzarella. If what you have in your fridge doesn't quite match up with any of them, try your hand at making your own free-form fridge-clearing pasta bake:
• 1 Chicken and Swiss Chard Pasta Bake
• 2 Double Spinach Pasta Casserole with Pesto & Asiago Cheese
• 3 Tomato, Broccoli and Mozzarella Pasta Casserole
• 4 Goat Cheese and Swiss Chard Pasta Casserole
• 5 Big Hearted Macaroni and Cheese with Artichokes
• 6 Chicken and Tomato No-Boil Pasta Bake
• 7 Pumpkin and Ricotta Pasta Casserole
• 8 Easy Pasta Bake with Prosciutto, Tomato Sauce & Mozzarella
• 9 Grown-Up Tuna Noodle Casserole
• 10 Lighter Stuffed Pasta Shells
Related: Meatless Meals: 15 Hearty Vegetarian Recipes
(Images: See linked recipes for full image credits)