This pesto pasta bake is a match made in heaven. Made with just 4 ingredients, you add cheese, bake, and you will get the most irresistible dish ever.
We love quick and easy pasta dishes, especially if they involve minimal prep.
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Why this recipe works
A set-and-forget dinner that requires barely any prep? No wonder this was a family favorite meal. Along with seafood pasta, this was a dish mom would make weekly and us kids would inhale it!
- A delicious way to use leftover pasta. Pasta bakes are one of the most delicious and easy ways to use leftover pasta.
- Just 4 ingredients. Pesto, pasta, cheese, and peas.
- An easy freezer meal. Like Boursin pasta, If you are busy on weeknights, assemble this pesto pasta bake in advance and freeze it. Bake it whenever you need a quick meal.
What I love about this recipe is just how fast it is to make. It can be made in advance or the night of- it’s the ultimate dump-and-bake dinner.
This pesto pasta bake comes together in just a few minutes. You need only four simple ingredients to make it.
- Pasta. I use ziti pasta for this recipe which is a tube-shaped pasta variety. Feel free to use other types of pasta, including fusilli, penne, rotini, and longer types of pasta, such as tagliatelle, bucatini, and fettuccine.
- Pesto sauce. The key ingredient of this baked pasta dish. I prefer using traditional basil pesto sauce but any pesto works.
- Cheese. Use grated parmesan and shredded mozzarella cheese for a rich cheesy flavor.
- Green peas. Cooked green peas add extra flavor and texture to this pesto pasta bake.
How to make a pesto pasta bake
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Then, cook the pasta according to the instructions. Drain the pasta, add in the pesto, and cooked green peas.
Mix well and transfer the pasta mixture into a greased baking dish.
Top the pasta with shredded mozzarella cheese and grated parmesan.
Bake until the cheese melts and becomes golden brown.
Tips to make the best recipe
- Use freshly made homemade pesto. While using store-bought pesto makes the preparation of this dish a lot easier, I do recommend you use homemade pesto whenever possible.
- Add heavy cream. Using heavy cream in your pesto pasta bake will make it extra creamy and cheesy. I like to also stir it through some lamb ragu or linguine with clams for that gorgeous creamy factor.
- Use freshly grated cheese. Freshly grated cheese melts better and yields creamier results. Pre-shredded cheese is coated with additives to prevent it from clumping. But these additives don’t let the cheese melt smoothly.
The beauty of this baked pasta recipe is just how easy it is to customize with a plethora of mix-ins or flavors. Here are some ideas:
- Add tomatoes. Use fresh cherry tomatoes to make this pasta bake more flavorful. Sun-died tomatoes will work too. They will add an intense sweet-tart flavor to this pasta dish.
- Use spinach pesto. Spinach pesto tastes just as great in this recipe. The flavor of spinach pesto is quite close to the flavor of traditional basil pesto. It’s bright and herby.
- Top with breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the pasta with breadcrumbs before baking it. The crispy breadcrumb topping will contrast nicely with the creamy pasta.
- Make it spicy with chili flakes. If you enjoy your food with a little spicy kick, use chili flakes.
- Add protein. Chicken pairs with pesto pasta, as does salmon and tuna.
To store: Refrigerate this pesto pasta as soon as it cools. Put the leftover cheese-baked pasta in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
To freeze: This pesto pasta bake freezes quite well. Once you have baked it, let it cool, and then cover the baking dish with food wrap. You can also freeze this pasta bake in portions using airtight plastic containers. This will keep for up to two months.
To reheat: Microwave portions of the pasta for 30-45 seconds until hot, or in a preheated oven.
What goes with pesto pasta bake
Because the baked pasta is rich and flavorful, pair it with simply cooked vegetables. We like these air fried options:
Frequently asked questions
Mixing pesto with hot pasta is not recommended as the heat causes the sauce to change its color. On the other hand, cold pasta doesn’t soak up the flavors of the sauce well. Thus, your best bet would be to mix pesto with warm pasta.
When made with gluten free pasta, this dish is suitable for celiacs.
Pesto Pasta Bake | 4 Ingredients
- 1 lb ziti pasta uncooked
- 1 cup basil pesto
- 1 cup peas
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease a large baking dish.
- Cook the pasta as instructed. Once cooked, drain and add back into the pan. Stir through the pesto, then the green peas.
- Transfer the pasta to the baking dish and top with the shredded cheese.
- Bake the pasta for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is bubbling.
- Remove the pasta from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes, before serving.
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