Vegetable Alfredo Pasta Bake

$9.09 recipe / $1.13 serving

Okay, so it’s not really alfredo because it doesn’t even have any cream, but it’s close enough that I’m going to call it that. This fake-out alfredo is a little lighter and doesn’t hit your belly like a ton of bricks. That’s a little more my speed.

This dish reminds me of the white vegetable lasagna that I used to love so much as a kid, except there’s no tedious layering going on. It definitely isn’t one of those quick one-dish meals that we all love so much, but sometimes a little extra time in the kitchen is totally worth it. I used four pots/dishes to make this pasta and I’m not the least bit sorry. How can you be sorry when you have pasta slathered with a creamy sauce and a ton of delicious little vegetables pieces that give every bite a new flavor and texture? You can’t. You just can’t be sorry about dirtying dishes when you have something so great (and I don’t even have a dishwasher, y’all!).

So, choose a day when you have some time and energy to make a masterpiece in the kitchen and make. this. pasta. Cooking can be therapeutic. Turn on some music and enjoy the process just as much as you do the end result.

Vegetable Alfredo Pasta Bake

Veggie Alfredo Pasta Bake

4.5 from 11 reviews
Vegetable Alfredo Pasta Bake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Total Cost: $9.09
Cost Per Serving: $1.13
Serves: 8
Ingredients
VEGETABLE MIX
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1 small onion $0.52
  • 4 cloves garlic $0.32
  • 3 medium carrots $0.36
  • 1 medium zucchini $0.82
  • ½ lb. frozen broccoli & cauliflower pieces $0.83
  • ¼ lb. frozen chopped spinach $0.41
  • Salt and pepper to taste $0.05
(not)ALFREDO SAUCE
  • 4 Tbsp butter $0.48
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour $0.04
  • 4 cups 2% (or whole) milk $1.20
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg $0.03
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder $0.03
  • ½ tsp salt $0.02
  • Freshly cracked pepper $0.03
  • ⅔ cup grated parmesan $1.09
PASTA AND TOPPING
  • 1 lb. pasta (elbow, shells, etc.) $1.50
  • 1 cup shredded gouda (or smoked mozzarella) $1.20
Instructions
  1. Begin by making the vegetable mix. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Sauté both in a large skillet with the olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add the frozen broccoli and cauliflower pieces and and the frozen spinach to the skillet. Continue to sauté until the frozen vegetables are warmed through.
  2. While the onions, garlic, frozen broccoli, and frozen spinach are cooking, peel and shred the carrots using a large hole cheese grater or box grater. Dice the zucchini into small pieces. Add the carrots and zucchini to the skillet and sauté for one to two minutes more. Season the skillet lightly with salt and pepper. Set the sautéed vegetables aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package directions (boil for 7-10 minutes, or until al dente). Drain the pasta in a colander.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. Add the butter and flour to a medium sauce pot. Melt the butter over medium heat and use a whisk to incorporate the flour as the butter melts. Allow the flour and butter mixture to begin to bubble. Continue to whisk and cook the mixture for two minutes. If it begins to brown, move on to the next step immediately.
  5. Whisk the milk into the butter and flour mixture. Also stir in the nutmeg, garlic powder, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. Allow the milk to come up to a simmer over medium heat, making sure to whisk frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom. When the milk comes up to a simmer it will begin to thicken.
  6. When the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon, turn the heat down to low and whisk in the parmesan until it is melted and the sauce is thick. Turn the heat off.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Return the well drained pasta to the large pot with the heat turned off. Add the sautéed vegetables and the white sauce. Stir until everything is well combined and coated in the sauce. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish that has been coated with non-stick spray. Sprinkle the shredded gouda on top and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Serve hot.

 

Vegetable Alfredo Pasta Bake

Step by Step Photos

Fresh Vegetables

Start by preparing the vegetable mix. For fresh vegetables I used one small onion, four cloves of garlic, three carrots, and one zucchini. You’ll want to cut the onion and zucchini into a small dice, mince the garlic, and shred the carrots with a cheese shredder or box grater. 

Frozen Vegetables

I also used some frozen vegetables because I didn’t want to buy an entire head of cauliflower or a whole bunch of broccoli. Plus this way they’re already chopped. These are both one pound bags, but I used half of the bag of broccoli and cauliflower (“winter blend”) and 1/4 of the bag of spinach. So, that’s 1/2 lb. of broccoli/cauliflower pieces and 1/4 lb. of frozen chopped spinach.

Saute vegetables

I began with the onion and garlic. Sauté them in a large skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil until soft. Then add the 1/2 lb. of frozen broccoli/cauliflower and 1/4 lb. frozen spinach. Continue to sauté until those are warmed through (I did not thaw them first). Use the time while these are cooking to shred the carrots and dice the zucchini.

Saute 2

Add the zucchini and carrots to the skillet and sauté just a couple minutes more. I wanted the vegetables to be slightly crisp still because they will cook a little further in the oven later. Plus, I just like my vegetables to retain a little crunch. Season the skillet with a pinch of salt and pepper. Set the skillet aside while you make the pasta and sauce.

Roux

Start the water for the pasta because that can cook while you’re making the sauce. To make the sauce, add 4 Tbsp of butter and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour to a medium sauce pot. Turn the heat onto medium and whisk the flour and butter together as the butter melts. Let the mixture begin to bubble, then whisk and cook for 2 minutes. This will slightly toast the flour to get rid of that gluey flavor. If the mixture begins to brown, move on to the next step immediately, or you’ll have a brown “white” sauce!

Milk Seasoning

Whisk four cups of milk (2% or higher milkfat). Then whisk in 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. Let the milk come up to a simmer over medium heat, making sure to whisk frequently to keep the bottom from scorching.

Thickened

When the milk begins to bubble it will also begin to thicken – that’s when those starch granules in the flour plump up and make everything thick. It should get thick enough to coat a spoon like this (oops, I’m focused on the whisk and not the spoon! My bad.). Once you get here, turn the heat down to low.

Parmesan

Whisk 2/3 cup grated parmesan into the hot sauce until it is melted. This will further thicken the sauce. It will now coat a spoon a bit thicker! Turn the heat off.

Drain Pasta

By this time your pasta should be finished cooking. Make sure it drains really, really well. You don’t want a bunch of water trapped in the shells to make everything watery. I used this cool shape, but you can use elbows, shells, rotini, or whatever you want. Oh, you’ll want to preheat the oven to 375 now, too.

Combine

Return the drained pasta to the big pot that it cooked in (heat turned off) and add the prepared vegetables and the sauce. Stir everything really well or until everything is coated in the delicious sauce.

Gouda

Pour everything into a casserole dish (this one is about 9×9 inches and it was full up to the top). Sprinkle a cup of shredded gouda (smoked mozzarella would also be nice) on top. Bake in the preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Baked

And then OMG.

Vegetable Alfredo Pasta Bake

Eat it up! It’s so creamy and good with tons of vegetables. Yessss.

Vegetable Alfredo Pasta Bake

Closer look at the creamy goodness?

52 Comments

  1. Finally made this tonight and it is *really* good. I think I dirtied every pot in the kitchen but so worth it. Had always thought of broccoli and zucchini as somehow not belonging in the same dish, but the flavors all worked well together. You managed to get me over my fear of white sauce :) Thank you.

  2. Diana says:

    (Sorry, I’m going through a binge on your recipes right now, haha.) Can this be stored in the fridge/freezer for a while before baking? Does it need to be baked at all? I’m wondering how it would taste just right off the stovetop.

    Thank you!!

    • Yep, you can definitely just eat it off the stove top! That does make it a lot easier. I only did the oven step to melt the gouda over top and make it more casserole-like. Everything is already cooked before going in the oven, though, so it’s safe to eat. You can refrigerate or freeze it before baking, although I haven’t tested to see what time or temp would be needed to reheat.

  3. Charna says:

    Is it alright to just use Alfredo sauce instead?

  4. Katie says:

    OMG, this was SO good. Slightly involved but so worth it. The PERFECT way to use up the zucchini and carrot I had in the fridge and veggies in the freezer. Absolutely delicious and makes a TON. I’ve been heating this up and eating it for lunch for the last week and it is STILL good. Still creamy and tasty and the little bit of smoked cheese on top, delish! I cannot believe how good this is left over a week later. Great way to use up veggies in the fridge! Yum!

  5. Amber Williams says:

    Wow! This was such a hit! Every member in my family loved it (even my picky 3 year old).. This is definitely being added to my rotation of go to meals.. Thank you!

  6. Olivia says:

    I made this tonight, minus the zucchini and plus some chicken breast. I didn’t bake it because I don’t have an oven, but it’s just as delicious and totally reminiscent of the frozen veggie lasagnas from my childhood.

  7. Rhonda says:

    When I got my first CSA box today, all I could think was “What am I going to make starring zucchini/squash?” You guess it, I had 4 different types. Luckily I decided to browse through your recipes and decided to try this one. Very, very good!

  8. Gabrielle says:

    I can’t wait to try this recipe. I like to use my family as test subjects for a full recipe and then I’ll adjust the ingredients for just me while I’m away at college.

    Quick question: I know that a lot of cream sauces use nutmeg to add ‘depth’ to the flavor, but my sister and I are allergic. Is there something I can use instead? Or would it be alright to just skip it?

    • I think the flavor is subtle enough that you could skip it without losing much. Maybe add a pinch of black pepper.

  9. Joanna says:

    Another delicious recipe! I did tweak it a bit so I could make it without having to go to the store. What can I say? I was lazy yesterday. ;) I left out the onion, carrots, and zucchini and substituted chopped asparagus and increased the garlic. I added about 6 oz gorgonzola to the sauce with the parmesan. (I can’t get enough blue cheeses). I also added a tsp of dry mustard. I didn’t have smoked mozz or gouda, so I topped it with regular mozzarella. It filled a 9×13 pan and was plenty suace-y. Seriously delicious. I love your blog! Please don’t ever stop posting.

  10. Oh wow. This turned out SO well! Normally I have little tweaks that I make to recipes after the first time (“more spices” or “use different cheese” or whatnot) but there is literally nothing I’d change about this one. The entire family loved it!

  11. Rachel says:

    This looks absolutely amazing!! Reminds me of one of my all time favorite smitten kitchen recipes: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2013/09/baked-pasta-with-broccoli-rabe-and-sausage/

    She calls it a bechamel sauce. Anyway, love the idea of adding a variety of veggies, can’t wait to try it!!! I love when I have time (usually on weekends) to cook those “takes a little longer, but worth it” meals… I too find it very relaxing :)

  12. Tiffany says:

    Love your recipes! Baked oatmeal has become my favorite “go-to” lunch for the past couple of weeks. :-)

    Do you think that using 1% milk instead of 2% or higher would be a problem in this recipe?

  13. I made this tonight. Despite my fumbled attempt at the cheesy sauce (let’s just say I have a very scalded pan) it still turned out pretty good. But it made a ton. I probably can convince my kids to eat it again like it is one more time, but after that I will need to reinvent. Any suggestions on how to turn this into another meal?

    • I have some in the freezer right now (because it was too much for me, too!), so I’m going to reheat some soon to see how it holds up. That might be the best solution.

      • Kristen says:

        Have you gotten a chance to try it after freezing?

        I have my eye on this recipe, but I don’t know if we could eat all of that in time! :)

        • Oh, yes! Thanks for reminding me. I did freeze and reheat it in the microwave and it was delicious. I had the last frozen portion yesterday, as a matter of fact! :)

  14. Allyson says:

    I am a HUGE fan of your website and share your recipes all the time. My boyfriend and I keep the chicken and lime soup as well as the hearty meatball in heavy rotation. This will be added to the list for sure! I made some swaps using gluten free pasta and gf all purpose flour. YUUMMMMM!

  15. Keisha says:

    Made this on Sunday and still eating left overs, it turned out great! The only change we made was substituting fresh asparagus for the frozen broccoli/cauliflower.

  16. Dunja says:

    OMG. Just looking at this makes me want to go out again, buy Zucchini & cauliflower and cook this tonight! Too bad we’re currently trying out the 2:5 diet, and of course today has to be one of those days, so this is no option, but be sure I’ll do it latest on the long Easter weekend. Thank you Beth, there can never be too many pasta recipes :)

  17. I love how you lightened this up, looks delicious!

  18. Becky says:

    Have you ever tried stirring in a cup or so of cottage cheese to create a quick “sauce”

  19. Amanda Mananda says:

    Those are the CUTEST PASTA SHELLS I HAVE EVER SEEN. I’m in love with the shape. And if anyone says that strong personal affection for the shape of your pasta doesn’t affect the flavor … they’re so very wrong.

    Also, I was looking back through some of your recipes — I’m trying the Oven Roasted Autumn Medley for dinner tonight — and I saw you had a Victorinox chef’s knife. *Fist bump* Word. I love my Victorinox. -:D

    • Hahaha, I think pasta shape is very important, too! I didn’t always think so, but now I know that you have to have the right shape for the right application. And I LOVE unique shapes. I got my Victorinox in a pinch and it’s definitely been worth it!

  20. Brittany says:

    This was amazing! I am vegan, so I used almond milk instead of whole milk and nutritional yeast instead of parmesan. It turned out really well, it really thickened up nice. I was afraid the almond milk might be a little to bitter but it was great. I love your site, I basically don’t cook anything without looking here first!

  21. its me kb!?! says:

    So question for you guys. I’m not a big fan of frozen veggies, yes I know they are just as good as fresh, but I think they are mushy. So would I use the same amount of fresh compared to frozen? Thanks for the wonderful recipes, keep ‘em coming!!

  22. Rose says:

    While I didn’t make this actual recipe , I took the sauce recipe portion to make my Cajun Shrimp Penne. IT WAS AMAZING. I have been dying for a good homemade alfredo sauce and this nails it. It does take time and patience for it to thicken properly but it is worth it. I used minced garlic in place of garlic powder.

    I seasoned the shrimp with cajun seasoning , paprika and black pepper then added the sauce and added pasta in a skillet together. My husband devoured it. If you are looking for a versatile easy to make sauce..look no further !

  23. I made this last night. It completely filled my 9×13 pan but I did have enough sauce. It was delicious and I’ll probably play around with different vegetables during farmer’s market season.

  24. Looks incredible! I love alfredo sause and with the veggies I bet it’s great.

  25. Natasha says:

    This looks great! I will likely streamline to make fewer dishes to wash. First, I’ll cook veggies in my 12 inch cast iron skillet. Remove them to a bowl, and wipe out skillet. Then I’ll make the white sauce in the same skillet, add cooked pasta and veggies, stir and bake.

    I do potpies and baked mac and cheese this way too.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  26. Kelly says:

    We had this last night and it was delicious! I know that the sauce is key- it takes time to get it to the point where it will coat a spoon, but it’s so worth it!!!
    Don’t forget the salt- it will be missed without it! We used cayenne pepper and it gave the dish a nice “bite”.
    Definitely going to be part of our regular meal rotation!
    (Oh- if you’re wondering what kind of pasta we used, it was 16oz. of Rotini and there was plenty of sauce!)

  27. Stacy says:

    I made this tonight instead of doing my taxes like I should have. It turned out pretty well, but I felt like it was missing something–and in writing this, I realized that I’d forgotten to add salt and pepper to the veggies, so that might have been the little extra “oomph” it needed. Of course, that didn’t stop me from eating A LOT of it :).
    I did add in mushrooms and used spiral pasta. I didn’t have any of Ari’s issues with it being dry, even with the extra veggies, but I definitely could have used a 9×13 pan! Thanks for the recipe!

  28. Rebecca says:

    Yum. Made this tonight and it was delicious. Thanks. Even got my vegetable hating son to eat some.
    How long do you think it would last in the fridge? Would it survive freezing?
    Thanks!

    • I haven’t tried freezing it yet, although I will today and I’ll report back in a couple days. It should be good in the fridge for 4-5 days.

  29. So I made this last night, and had to use shredded mozzarella instead of the Gruyere, so that may have changed the flavor a little. I like it except it isn’t nearly creamy enough! I had enough of the pasta mixture to fill a 9X13 pan (anyone want to come over for some? hah.), and think maybe the sauce/pasta ratio was off somehow.. if I did it over again, I might just use 1/2 lb of pasta instead of a full lb. (I used macaroni btw).

  30. annemarie says:

    Hi Beth, just wanted to say I love your recipes and take them to work all the
    time. I come back to your site 2 or 3 times a week. Keep all the great recipes coming!

  31. Heather K says:

    This looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it. Lol we have been trying to cut back on our budget, so I have been pretty much solely using your site to meal plan. I spent only $70 for two weeks of meals with lots of leftovers ( for a family of 3,) last meal plan! :)

  32. Sabrina says:

    Thanks Jamie Lynn. I was just being totally lazy! Coincidentally, I had just finished putting Taco Chicken in myfitnesspal when I read your message. Their recipe import feature is pretty cool. I’ll ck out the other calculators too. Thanks again!

  33. Jamie Lynn says:

    SO making this. Soon. This looks absolutely delish!! Next time I go shopping I’m definitely getting what I don’t already have to make this. For Sabrina: You can use a recipe calorie calculator to easily find the nutrition content for exactly what you use for your recipe. You can Google it and find one, you can also use the MyFitnessPal app if you have a smartphone to create a recipe and it will calculate the nutrition info for you. I also use SparkRecipes.com to do the same thing. Input your ingredients (you can look them up by the brand usually) and it will calculate for you. Very helpful when you slightly variate from the original recipe or use a different brand of frozen stuff, etc.

  34. Sabrina says:

    We had black bean pizzas 2 nights in a row & my husband wanted to know if we could have them a third! I’ve got Sweet Chili Chicken in the crockpot overnight & Chicken Taco Rice Bowl ready to go on in the morning. All that to say we love your recipes! I’m looking forward to this one as soon as we can eat up the others but have a question: have you ever considered putting nutrition info? I can figure it myself but it would be a bonus if it was already done (lazy, aren’t I?) It would also be nice if you came & cooked them for me but in guess that would be a little too much to ask! :0)

    • Yes, I’ve considered it, but decided against it long ago. I can’t guarantee the info, so I don’t feel comfortable posting it (wrong stats can be dangerous for those with health conditions). I feel much better about letting readers choose nutrition calculators that they trust. There are several on the internet these days. :)

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