Extra Cheesy Penne and Mozzarella Casserole

You can throw together this easy, cheesy, hearty Penne and Mozzarella Casserole in 45 minutes, tops. You don’t have to cook the sauce, just stir some spices in and call it good. This is a great meatless Monday meal! 

Ingredients

1 pound penne pasta
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
1 cup basil pesto
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a 3 quart pot or larger, add a few quarts of water and salt until it tastes like seawater (I usually add about 1 tablespoon.)
  3. Bring to a boil, then add the penne and cook until al dente; check the package for times and check early. Nobody likes mushy pasta.
  4. When the pasta is done, drizzle with a little oil to prevent sticking. (Or if the sauce is all ready to go, just dump it in.)
  5. Meanwhile, spray the edges of a 9×13 inch casserole dish (or any shape dish that hold 3 quarts) with nonstick spray.
  6. Add the can of crushed tomatoes to the casserole dish. Add the pesto, sugar, basil, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir together.
  7. Stir in the pasta.
  8. Shred one pound of mozzarella. Stir into the pasta.
  9. Shred or slice the remaining 1/2 lb mozzarella and sprinkle/arrange on top of the casserole.
  10. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.
  11. Optional: if you like brown spots on your cheese broil for 1-2 minutes. Move the dish higher up toward the flame.
  12. Serve with a big salad and some French bread.

Source: http://thefoodcharlatan.com/2017/03/07/penne-and-mozzarella-casserole-recipe/