Ever have one of those nights when you have no idea what to make for dinner?
Don’t we all? So what would you call a crowd-pleasing meal that’s made mostly from pantry staples, takes only five minutes of prep and doesn’t require the forethought of planning a slow cooker or freezer meal? Um…a miracle?!
I am ALL about the slow cooker, but some days just I’m too exhausted or short on time to set the meal up to cook a few hours in advance. We usually eat a lot of bean and cheese quesadillas on those nights, if you know what I mean!
Discovering that you can bake pasta in the oven without cooking it first completely changed how I think about preparing quick meals. Instead of putting on a stovetop juggling act for 20 minutes by boiling and draining pasta while I sauté the veggies and meat, I can stir this all together in less than five minutes and let the oven do the rest of the work.
Yes, you can bake pasta in the oven without boiling it first!
This magical meal does have one caveat, though: The leftovers aren’t so fab. Well, let me correct that. They’re not so fab if you’re an adult accustomed to the normal texture of pasta. If you are a toddler who lives for carbs and cheese, you might not care. Mine sure doesn’t, so I often pack the leftovers of this in her lunch the next day.
The recipe below is the simplest incarnation of this meal but I encourage you to get creative by adding additional veggies or diced sausage if time allows.
Magic Pasta Bake
- 8 oz. rotini pasta
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup whole milk
- 5 oz. frozen spinach thawed
- 5 oz. chevre goat cheese
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- Parmesan cheese optional
- Red chili pepper flakes optional
Preheat oven to 375F.
In a medium sized oven-safe pot with lid, combine dry pasta, milk, diced tomatoes, spinach, garlic and salt.
Crumble goat cheese over mixture, stir again to combine.
Cover pot and bake for 45 minutes, removing once around the 30 minute mark to stir the contents and return to oven.*
Serve immediately and top with optional Parmesan cheese and chili pepper flakes.
*If, like me, you forget to stir the contents at 30 minutes, you may notice that the noodles that weren't fully submerged don't seem cooked. Just stir the pot once the cook time is up and let it stand for 5-10 minutes. It will all even out.