Winter is here in full force. There have been some days over the past few weeks that, quite frankly, have been absolutely frigid here in Canada’s capital. One of the ways we like to stay cozy and warm during this season is by cooking with pasta. A dish I love to throw together to keep the chill of winter away from my family, especially after having fun in the snow, is this Easy Cheesy Pasta Bake.
I used ground beef in this recipe. I have also dabbled with ground chicken to experience a different flavour profile. I find that ground chicken is lighter than ground beef, but beef gives this meal a heartier feel.
I also like to play around with the vegetables used in the tomato sauce. I have used yellow bell peppers in this recipe, but it can be easily swapped out for any other bell pepper, as well as any veggies you like to add to a tomato sauce. My other half’s mom even likes to add carrots in her sauce.
One of my favourite parts of this dish has to be that everything is pretty much cooked before it is popped into the oven. This shortens the cook time so preparing it any day of the week is not lengthy.
Take a look below to see how to put this Easy Cheesy Pasta Bake together to warm up your family this winter!
Easy Cheesy Pasta Bake
A home-style meal that is simple to prepare and enjoy any night of the week and that is easy to customize to your tastes!
Fill a medium-sized saucepan with water and place it on the stove over medium-high heat to boil. Add salt to the water.
While the water is on the stove, chop up the bell pepper, onion, and garlic.
Put the canned whole tomatoes and tomato paste into a medium-sized sauce pan. Mash the whole tomatoes and the tomato paste together. Place the saucepan over medium heat. Once it is warm, reduce to medium-low heat.
Once the water has boiled, add shells, stir them, and cook for 10 minutes or are al dente.
Add chopped bell pepper, garlic, onions, and thyme into the saucepan with the tomato mixture until the vegetables until the bell pepper pieces are softer and onion pieces are translucent.
While the vegetables are blending in the saucepan, brown the ground chicken in a pan. If it is not a non-stick pan, add a bit of oil to the pan before adding the meat so it will not stick to the bottom. Drain fat from the meat once it has been cooked.
Add cooked ground chicken to the tomato sauce and cook for about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir occasionally.
Once the shell noodles are cooked, drain the water away from the shells and place into an 8x8x8 casserole dish.
Add the cooked sauce on top of the shell noodles. Shake the casserole dish to get the sauce to blend into the shells.
Add the mozzarella cheese on top of the shell noodles and the meat sauce.
Move the rack in the oven to the top level and set it to broil. Place the casserole dish in the oven until the cheese is a golden brown.
Remove the casserole dish from the oven and serve.
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Simple. Cozy. Ever so delicious. I love making this Easy Ground Chicken Pasta Bake. It is a hearty meal that fills me up, and if there are leftovers, has me thinking about it until I can eat it the next day. Serve this dish with fresh bread and a salad to round out this dish. When the mercury drops, you can be sure this is a meal I like adding to our weekly meal plan. I hope you try it out, put your own spin on it, and enjoy it with your family this winter.
What is your go-to meal to enjoy during the winter months?