Easy Penne Bake with Homemade Marinara Sauce
Although it may seem like it occasionally, I don’t always crave meals that are elaborate or incorporate a ton of different elements. Sometimes, a simple dish of pasta, sauce and cheese will do just fine. This is that dish.
It’s the ultimate quick-and-easy dinner, too, with options to make it vegan and gluten free. Prepare the ingredients for the sauce the day before, and before you leave for work the next morning, simply turn on the crock pot. All that’s left to do is boil the pasta, toss it in the sauce, sprinkle it with cheese and bake it until it’s golden brown and delicious.
Whenever I feature a pasta dish on OKCVeggie.com, you can guarantee it’s made with a healthful, non-enriched flour pasta (practically all my pasta recipes are subsequently gluten free). Chickapea Pasta is one of my all-time favorites. Its texture is incredibly similar to the traditional pasta you know and love, and it packs a whopping 27 grams of protein per serving. It’s also made with a mere two ingredients—chickpea flour and lentils—and is USDA certified organic, non-GMO verified, certified vegan, certified kosher, certified gluten free and certified women owned. It’s also certified delicious! I highly recommend this brand if you’re craving pasta but are trying to eat healthy (not a sponsored post, btw…I just generally love the product).
This tasty dish also features my signature Loaded Veggie Marinara Sauce, which made its first appearance in my Spaghetti Pie recipe. It’s incredibly versatile and is our family’s go-to pasta sauce option. I hope you enjoy!
INGREDIENTS - SAUCE
2 - 28 oz. cans fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1 - 6 oz. can tomato paste
1/2 T. Italian seasoning
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. onion powder
1/2 t. smoked paprika
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1 t. dried basil
4 garlic cloves minced
1 yellow onion, roughly diced
1 - 8 oz. container portobello mushrooms, roughly chopped
2-3 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 c. vegetable broth
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 bay leaves
1 T. white sugar
1 - 8 oz. box of penne pasta (I recommend Chickapea Organic Chickpea & Lentil Pasta)
3-4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese (or use your favorite vegan alternative)
Olive oil cooking spray
1) Combine all sauce ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 7 hours.
2) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions.
3) Spray a 9 in. x 13 in. glass dish with olive oil cooking spray. Ladle enough sauce into the dish to create a thin bottom layer. Drain the pasta and pour it into the dish. Ladle on 3-4 more spoonfuls of sauce (when you’re baking pasta, you always need more sauce than you think). Use the ladle to smooth the pasta out so it’s even. Finish by sprinkling on the cheese.
4) Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Note: you will definitely have extra sauce! It can be frozen or used within a week.