The cauliflower florets in this Creamy Baked Ziti melt right into the creamy sauce for a dish with a little hidden vegetable boost. This baked pasta can be assembled in a casserole dish up to a day ahead and baked whenever you’re ready.
Course: Main Dish
Keyword: baked pasta, make ahead baked pasta, vegetarian casserole
Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
9x13 Baking Dish
2tablespoonExtra Virgin Olive Oil
1teaspoonDried Basil(or chopped fresh basil)
¼ teaspoonRed Pepper Flakes(optional)
315 oz cansCrushed Tomatoes(or tomato puree)
1lbDried Pasta, like Ziti, Rigatoni, or Penne
16 ozFrozen Cauliflower Florets
4ozCream Cheese, cubed
½ + ¼cupGrated Parmesan Cheese
Preheat oven to 450°F / 232°C. Rub a 9x13 baking dish with oil or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Place a large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil and then garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Stir in tomatoes and sugar. Bring to a simmer. Simmer with lid slightly ajar for 15 to 20 minutes.
While sauce simmers, boil pasta according to package directions. In the last minute of cooking, add cauliflower florets. Drain pasta and cauliflower.
Return to sauce and whisk in cream cheese.
Stir 3 cups sauce and ½ cup parmesan cheese into pasta and cauliflower.
Pour ¾ cup sauce into prepared baking dish. Top with half the mozzarella. Add pasta over top.
Top pasta with any remaining sauce, remaining mozzarella, and ¼ cup parmesan cheese.
Transfer to the oven and bake until bubbly and melted, about 10 minutes.
Turn on the oven’s broiler and broil until the top is golden, 3 to 4 minutes more.
Make ahead - The pasta can be assembled up to a day ahead of time. Let it come to room temperature before baking according to recipe (it may take a few minutes longer to warm through).