Don’t you just love a saucy casserole dish after a long, busy day? We make this dish year-round, it’s that good! This cheesy pasta casserole is great for a family dinner and it’s really easy to make. I so wish it could be a one-dish meal but, alas, it needs a side of veggies. I suggest serving it up with some zucchini or yellow squash in keeping with the Italian theme. 😉
How I make my cheesy pasta casserole
I make this so often, I have all the steps down to a science. If you need a printable recipe card, it’s at the bottom of this post.
You start by cooking the pasta and ground beef. I have these going on the stove simultaneously to save time.
The ricotta mixture is what adds plenty of creamy goodness to this dish. I mix the ingredients together one at a time in a medium-sized bowl.
There’s nothing like the scent of fresh basil. Even though I use a prepared marinara, it doesn’t quite bring a full Italian flavor. My marinara has plenty of oregano, so adding in some fresh basil gives the dish more flavor.
Everything blends together before it goes in the baking dish.
Adding some marinara to the bottom of the casserole helps to ensure that the pasta mixture won’t stick to my cookware, plus you get that zesty marinara on all sides!
More marinara goes on top, followed by cheese. Then into the oven it goes!
Choose your ingredients wisely
If a name brand item isn’t called for in a recipe, I usually just get whatever brand is most appealing to me at the time. When it comes to dairy products, however, I always stick to the ones with the “Real California Milk” seal on them. These products are made with 100% real California milk from California dairy farms. You’ll find the seal on all your favorite dairy products, like cheese, yogurt, butter, and of course milk.
As a California girl, supporting local dairy farms is reason enough to choose these products. But even better than that is the Spot the Seal campaign. They’re giving back to those living in Texas and Florida who have been affected by hurricanes, and in California who have been affected by the recent wildfires. For every social share of the Real California Milk seal (with the hashtag #SealsForGood), they’ll make a $5 donation to help those communities in need. We have family in Florida and northern California, and I’d love to be a part of the healing for them.
After you add this cheesy casserole dish to your Pinterest board, be sure and add this chicken casserole recipe as well. The cheese topping on both of them are available as Real California Milk products. Don’t forget to snap and share your #SealsForGood photo on social media. Yummy food and helping those in need is a win-win!
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 (12-oz.) package penne pasta
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
- 1 Tbsp. snipped fresh basil
- 24 oz. jar marinara sauce
- 1 ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350°
- Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. Drain the grease from the cooked meat.
- While the beef is cooking, cook the pasta according to package directions.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, pepper, and basil.
- Drain the pasta and return it to the cooking pot. Stir the meat and ricotta mixture into the pasta until well blended.
- Spread ½ cup of marinara into the bottom of a casserole dish.
- Add the pasta mixture to the dish and cover with the remaining marinara.
- Top with mozzarella cheese.
- Cover with foil and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until pasta is heated through and the cheese is bubbly.