This Baked Zucchini Pasta is lightened up comfort food at its best with creamy pasta packed with tons of fresh zucchini, garlic, and herbs.
Baked Pasta with Zucchini is guaranteed to fill you up and warm you to your core on a cold winter’s day! It one of those perfect dishes that's easy to make, works great for a big family dinner, and can even be frozen for future meals.
I love baked pasta dishes – they’re simple to make, tremendously filling, and they leave a nice, solid glow in your tummy. Baked pasta is the perfect food for a cold miserable rainy day, and this recipe is no exception.
A big thing that I love about this dish is how grown up it feels; this is not a childhood pasta dish, and does not feel like it. Baked Pasta with Zucchini is a dish that feels like it would be at home in a five star restaurant with a glass of expensive wine along with it.
However, it’s easy enough to make that you don’t need to have gone through culinary school to know how to make it!
What Goes in Baked Pasta with Zucchini?
For such a flavorful dish, there are surprisingly few ingredients in this pasta bake, and it all begins (of course) with the pasta. To make this dish a tiny bit more healthy, I opted for a high fiber pasta. To that solid base, add chopped zucchini, marinara sauce, skim ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic, basil, olive oil, and homemade Italian Seasoning.
Put all of these things together in a pan, and you’ve got an amazing, very grown up feeling pasta dish that will be a huge hit with the whole family.
Best Types of Pasta to Use
Just about any kind of noodle will work for this recipe, ranging from elbow macaroni to penne, or even on over to shells if you want! The important part is keeping them short enough to be easy to eat without needing to cut through them.
I also recommend that you use a high fiber pasta for this recipe. It’s much better for you than regular pasta and doesn’t cost that much more. Gluten free pastas work just fine in this recipe, too!
If you’re looking to inject some more protein into your diet, then this dish can easily be customized to do just that.
If it’s meat you want to add for the protein, go with skinless chicken breast shredded into the dish; I recommend cooking the chicken separately first and then adding it in at the end. For our meatless needs, I recommend tofu or beans – navy beans are a great option for this dish, or you could even go with peas which are an often forgotten source of protein!
If you want to try something a little bit different, or you just don’t have any zucchini on hand, here are some alternatives that work amazingly in this dish:
- Butternut Squash
- Patty Pan Squash
- Cauliflower florets
- Yellow Squash
All of these vegetables have similar textures and flavor profiles, so while it won’t taste exactly the same as if you had used zucchini, you can do so without concern that the vegetables won’t work at all.
What to Serve With Your Baked Pasta
Make it Vegan
Most of this dish is naturally vegan, but there are a couple of places where you can get caught unaware if you aren’t careful.
The first thing you will need to do to make this dish vegan is to substitute the cheeses. There are a number of recipes online for homemade ricotta made from cashews or almonds. It’s a bit of extra work, but the ricotta you make will go a long way and you’re sure to find yourself using it all the time.
You can also make your own vegan parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and cashews.
Also, make sure that your marinara sauce is vegan if you didn't make it yourself.
Make a Double Batch
One of my favorite “food hacks” is making a double batch of a big pasta dish like this one and then freezing the second one to have later. It’s one of the ways I make sure that I’m not ordering pizza on a night when I’m too exhausted to cook. This pasta dish will stay good in the freezer for about 3 to 4 months before freezer burn starts to be a concern if you’ve wrapped it in foil and put it inside one of the big freezer bags.
Be sure to write the date you made it on the foil (not the bag!) so you know until when it will be good.
More Healthy Pasta Recipes
Baked Zucchini Pasta
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- 12 oz. high fiber pasta
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 zucchini, chopped
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
- 3 cups marinara sauce (look for low sugar or no sugar added)
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh basil (for serving)
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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