This easy cheesy pasta bake itself sounds so amusing that it is bound to bring a smile on your face as soon as you hear about it! Now take a look at it and see how your smile expands!
It has been a while that I made a pasta bake recipe. I love any kind of cheesy pasta bake but am forced to avoid it as much as I could because of the overload of cheese! Can you believe it? I mean I agree the cheesy baked pasta is not a diet-friendly dish, but one can indulge in such luxurious delicacy once in a while, right? So, when I made up my mind to make this easy cheesy veggie pasta bake dish, I was determined to make it happen whatever may come my way! Sometimes we have to fight for our rights, don’t we? LOL! And the fight was all worth it simply because of the amazing taste of this cheesy baked pasta! You will simply be hooked to this veggie pasta bake dish loaded with broccoli as soon as you take the very first bite, trust me on this!
This cheesy pasta bake is a fairly simple recipe but it has lot of potential to be customized in various ways. I made my version of veggie pasta bake using only broccoli because I wanted to have the earthy flavor of broccoli come through the soft cheesy goodness. Mushrooms, assorted bell peppers, olives, sweet corn and many other veggies can add extra edge to this cheesy pasta bake! You can add any veggies of your choice – add some thinly sliced mushrooms after sautéing them in olive oil until golden brown, or add some garlic sautéed assorted bell peppers to give a colorful kick. This cheesy pasta bake would be an ideal recipe for adding lots of veggies into your diet in case you are not much of a veggie lover! It’s even a fantastic option to feed your kids, especially the fussy ones, hiding the veggies beneath the melting cheese!
You can make a non-vegetarian version of this cheesy pasta bake too! Here are few options – poach some chicken breast in salted boiling water for about 20 minutes or until tender, drain and shred them with 2 forks, sauté them lightly in olive oil, season with salt, pepper and some flavorful Italian seasoning and add it to the pasta. A quicker way would be to use pre-cooked sausages. Just cut the sausages into 1-inch rounds and fry them in olive oil very lightly. Then mix the sautéed sausage roundels with pasta and proceed similarly to bake as given in the recipe instructions below. I am telling you this cheesy pasta bake is a phenomenal recipe in itself, the array of possibilities of creating endless varieties out of this single recipe of baked pasta are only restricted by your imagination! You can also check out a shrimpy version of this cheesy pasta bake here!
My version of this cheesy broccoli pasta bake only includes sharp cheddar, which is our favorite cheese. If that’s your favorite too then you can use the same. Other melting cheeses like fresh Monterey Jack or Gruyere will also be good; or if you are not quite confident about the natural cheeses, use a good quality processed cheese which should also work well. Just make sure to bring the cheese to room temperature before you add it to the sauce and then start baking. This will ensure that the cheese melts well. And remove the baking dish from the oven immediately when the top starts to get a golden brown color; even a short delay can ruin the whole dish! Hope this helps and you can make a delicious easy cheesy broccoli pasta bake incorporating your own innovation which your family will love! After all food is meant to make people happy, right?
- Dry whole-wheat pasta (rigatoni, penne, or other short pasta with ridges) – 500 gms
- Broccoli florets – 2 cups, cut into ½-inch to 1-inch pieces
- Olive oil – 2 tbsp
- Garlic – 6 to 8 cloves, minced
- All-purpose flour – 1 tbsp
- Milk – 2 cups
- Dijon mustard – 1 tbsp
- Paprika – ½ tsp
- Italian seasoning – 1 tsp
- Dried parsley – 1 tsp
- Cheddar cheese – 200 gms, grated
- Parmesan cheese – ½ cup, grated
- Freshly-ground black pepper – ½ tsp
- Salt to taste
- Preheat your oven to 180 C / 350 F and place the wire rack at the center of the over.
- Cook the pasta till al dente in salted boiling water according to the package directions. Add the broccoli florets to the boiling water for the last two minutes of cooking the pasta. Drain the pasta and broccoli and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil warms up, add the minced garlic and cook for a minute or two until it begins to brown.
- Next add the flour, and whisk until a smooth roux forms. Add the milk, mustard and the spices and continue whisking until the mixture thickens, about 1-2 minutes.
- When the sauce begins to bubble, add the cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Add the pasta and broccoli to the sauce and stir until combined.
- Pour the pasta mixture into an oven-safe casserole dish and sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top.
- Bake until the pasta is warmed through and the top is golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Serve your cheesy pasta bake warm.