Cheesy Pasta Bake with Tomatoes and Havarti
This Cheesy Pasta Bake with Tomatoes and Havarti is a perennial favorite at our house! Family-friendly and an easy, delicious entree!
The tasty Penne Pasta Recipe is mixed with gooey cheese, tomatoes, black olives plus basil, and red pepper flakes for an out-of-the-ordinary meatless entree.
Why You’ll Love this Pasta Bake
- It’s a delicious, flavorful meatless meal!
- The addition of Havarti cheese makes every bite gooey and wonderful.
- We love this during Lent when we go without meat on Fridays.
I recall the first time I made this Baked Penne Pasta Recipe almost two decades ago. Bill came home from work, inquiring about dinner as is his routine. When I shared the name of this pasta dish, he grew quiet before asking, “Are you serving me fish???”
His culinary vocabulary grew by two new words that day. Penne is a tubular type of pasta. Havarti is a creamy Danish cheese. Neither are fish. Lesson completed. But soon this became one of those pasta dishes that is a regular on our menu. This gooey upscale mac and cheese is delicious, comforting, and adored by the whole family.
Easy Pasta Recipe
Kraft Deluxe or my Creamy Italian Sausage Pasta are the sorts of pasta dishes Katie adores. But this spicy penne pasta recipe quickly became a family favorite, especially with the pasta-loving daughter. She often requests this “spicy mac and cheese” for her birthday dinner and it makes the rounds every Lent when we need a vegetarian pasta recipe. Easy Pasta Recipes are a favorite of the cook, too!
How to Make
There’s a simple formula to make easy pasta dishes like penne pasta recipes.
- First, make a flavorful sauce. This spicy pasta sauce is made of tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, red pepper flakes, and chicken broth. Easy to find ingredients, that combine to make a tasty sauce.
- Next, cook the pasta properly. Bring the water to a full boil, then add a good tablespoon or more or so of salt. The water should be briny like seawater for the best-tasting pasta.Also, use a large pan with enough water to cover the pasta.
- Cook until the pasta is al dente or to the tooth, meaning it is a minute or two undercooked so as not to get mushy when baked in the oven. Most pasta boxes give you the timing for cooking pasta al dente.
- Make sure the water is boiling continuously. Also, stir occasionally so the pasta does not clump together. Drain and mix with the pasta sauce.
- Finally, mix in the other ingredients, like cheese, olives, peppers, sauteed mushrooms, depending on the recipe. This is where there is an opportunity to tweak your cheesy pasta bake. Mozzarella can replace the Havarti. Black olives can be omitted if your family does not approve.
- Top with real Parmesan cheese if desired and bake as directed.
Frequently Asked Questions
A pasta bake is simply a pasta dish with sauce, topped with cheese, then baked until hot.
This happens when your pasta sauce is watery. When you add the cooked or parboiled pasta to the sauce, the pasta absorbs the excess liquid as it bakes. The pasta sauce in this recipe is nice and thick, so the precooked pasta does not get mushy as it bakes.
First, make sure the casserole does not sit out at room temperature longer than 2 hours or you could risk getting a foodborne illness from the leftovers. Once it’s cooled, either cover the casserole well with plastic wrap or move the pasta into an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Yes, pasta with sauce can be frozen, but from experience, the pasta can get a little softer or waterlogged as it defrosts.
Make sure your pasta has cooled, then cover well with plastic wrap then foil or place in an airtight container. Store in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. To serve, reheat in the oven in an oven-safe dish or microwave until hot.
Besides Mozzarella, other good substitutes include Monterey Jack or Fontina.
You May Also Like:
- Tortilla Pizzas with Roasted Red Peppers from Cravings of a Lunatic
- Chili Relleno Casserole
- Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells
- Eggplant Rollatini
- Penne with Vodka Sauce
- Homemade Pizza Margarita
- More Meatless Recipes
Cheesy Pasta Bake with Tomatoes and Havarti
A gooey, upscale mac and cheese with penne pasta and havarti cheese!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 10 ounces Havarti cheese, shredded
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/2 cup sliced black olives
- Fresh basil, chopped, for garnish (optional)
- Heat olive oil in a large pot. Saute onion and garlic till onion is translucent.
- Add tomatoes, basil, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt. Stir well. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Cook till liquid is reduced.
- Check for seasonings and add more pepper flakes and salt if needed.
- Cook pasta in well-salted water according to package instructions.
- Drain well and mix into tomato sauce.
- Add Havarti and toss till well combined.
- Pour into a large, greased baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan, then olives.
- Bake at 350º for about 20 minutes, till hot and bubbly. Sprinkle with basil if desired.
!Adapted from American Favorites by Betty Rosbottom
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 494Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 52mgSodium: 1019mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 7gSugar: 12gProtein: 21g
56 Comments on “Cheesy Pasta Bake with Tomatoes and Havarti”
Havarti goes great in a spicy dish, Liz! Perfect meatless meal!
What a comforting pasta dish! I use havati for sandwich sometimes but haven’t used over pasta. Looks so yummy~~~!
Ah I love Havarti. It is the cheese we use on our sandwiches. Why have I not thought of using it with a pasta? Thank you for the inspiration!
I have a Hubby who’s no fish lover too, but he does have a great culinary vocabulary, in fact, he’s usually the one in the kitchen making dinner! This dish sounds delicious, and with a little less spice, could certainly find a regular place on my family’s menu! HUGS
I love the addition of black olives! This looks yummy, yummy!
That’s funny about the “lesson” 🙂 My dad would be happy to learn that lesson if it meant eating this dish!
That is so cute about Bill, at least he loves this dish 🙂 I love a good spicy pasta and the havarti and black olives sounds fantastic in here! This looks super tasty especially in the petite casserole bowls:)
Oh yum! This looks mouthwatering! Looks like I just found a great dish for this friday…thanks, Liz!
Looks gorgeous! And I love your cookware!
Liz, penne is actually my favorite pasta shape and I’d love to prepare it more if it weren’t for my spaghetti-noodle-only Bill. Geesh! Love the spicy bite to this too. Havarti is always such a great creamy addition! Hope Bill is recovering nicely!
Hehehe. OK, harvarti totally DOES sound like a type of fish. But unlike fish, it is so ridiculously creamy and melty! Love your baby Le Creusets. I have them in purple and they make me so happy 🙂
Bill is a funny guy! I can see why this pasta is a family favorite! Havarti is one of those cheese I always snack on but never put in a dish. Clearly I need to change that.
Liz!! love this penne pasta! This dish sounds fabulous and I can’t wait to try it. . and I love those cute little Le Creuset casserole dishes!!! WANT!
It’s so funny what we foodies take for granted that other people know!
I have never thought of adding Havarti to a pasta dish. I bet it adds a nice creaminess!
Love spicy dishes, especially if it involves pasta! Yum!! 🙂
What a perfect meal! This is one to make for sure! I love vegetarian pasta dishes!!
Amazing photos as always my friend! I really like the idea of serving this pasta dish in the individual casserole dishes! So cute!
I love pasta dishes and Havarti would be a new food for me to try:@)
Giggle, giggle. Bill is a cutie pie!
Havarti cheese is married to so many wonderful childhood memories. And continues to be a favorite treat….Your penne looks and sounds like a dish I’d sink my teeth into in any season =)