Roasted Vegetable Baked Penne

$11.34 recipe / $1.42 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.67 from 15 votes
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This was actually supposed to be a baked ziti, but it turns out ziti is just about impossible to find in grocery stores right now, so I went with a Roasted Vegetable Baked Penne instead. Sometimes you just have to roll with it! This recipe is a very vegetable-forward version of my Classic Baked Ziti, chock full of colorful vegetables, a quick homemade red sauce, and layers of ooey-gooey cheese. This recipes makes a LOT of pasta but the leftovers are awesome and freezable! 

Overhead view of a casserole dish full of roasted vegetable baked penne

Take a Short Cut

This roasted vegetable baked penne is kind of a labor of love because there are so many moving parts, BUT you can take a short cut by using some jarred pasta sauce instead of making your own. Use about one and a half 24oz. jars of store-bought pasta sauce in place of the homemade sauce listed below.

How to Store Leftovers

As I mentioned in the intro, this makes a LOT of pasta. But the leftovers are super yummy, and it makes a really great item to stash in your freezer for grab-n-go lunches or quick dinners on busy nights. After baking, divide the pasta into single serving containers and transfer to the refrigerator. Once fully cooled, you can transfer some (or all) of the containers to the freezer for longer storage. I usually leave as many as I can eat in one week in the fridge and freeze the left. The leftovers can be reheated quickly in the microwave.

What Vegetables Can You Use?

I used a classic mix of zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, and bell pepper so I could have a really colorful mix. If you want to substitute any of these vegetables, here are some other good options:

  • Mushrooms
  • Eggplant
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots

In general you want to opt for softer vegetables for this dish, as opposed to harder root vegetables, but if you do want to include vegetables that are more firm, make sure to cut them into much smaller pieces to help them soften more quickly while they roast.

Close up front view of roasted vegetable baked penne being scooped out of the casserole dish
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Roasted Vegetable Baked Penne

4.67 from 15 votes
Layers of pasta, flavorful roasted vegetables, a simple homemade red sauce, and melty cheese make this roasted vegetable baked penne to die for!
Overhead view of roasted vegetable baked penne being scooped out of the casserole dish
Servings 8
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 1 hour 25 minutes
Total 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients

Roasted Vegetables

  • 1 red onion ($0.44)
  • 1 zucchini ($0.79)
  • 1 yellow squash ($1.11)
  • 1 bell pepper ($1.69)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.26)
  • tsp salt ($0.02)
  • tsp pepper ($0.02)

Simple Red Sauce

  • 1 yellow onion ($0.32)
  • 2 Tbsp butter ($0.26)
  • 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes ($0.79)
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste ($0.12)
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning* ($0.30)
  • ¼ tsp salt ($0.02)
  • ½ cup water ($0.02)

Pasta & Cheese

  • 1 lb. penne ($1.00)
  • 15 oz. ricotta ($2.19)
  • 2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend**, divided ($1.86)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional garnish) ($0.11)

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Dice the red onion, zucchini, yellow squash, and bell pepper into 1-inch pieces. Spread the diced vegetables out over a large baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss until all the vegetables are coated in oil.
  • Roast the vegetables in the preheated oven, stirring once half way through, for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the edges are brown and caramelized.
  • While the vegetables are roasting, begin the red sauce. Finely dice the yellow onion and add it to a sauce pot with the butter. Sauté for a few minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, salt, and water.
  • Stir the sauce to combine. Allow the sauce to come up to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low and let the sauce simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are finished roasting (about 30 minutes).
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the shredded Italian cheese blend, and ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the penne. Once boiling, add the penne and continue to boil until the pasta is tender. Drain the penne in a colander, then return it to the pot with the heat turned off.
  • Stir one cup of the red sauce into the drained pasta to coat the pasta in flavor. Add the roasted vegetables to the remaining red sauce and stir to combine.
  • To layer the casserole, place half of the sauce coated penne in the bottom of a 9×13" or 3 quart casserole dish. Add half of the cheese mixture on top in dollops, followed by half of the roasted vegetable and red sauce mixture. The ingredients do not need to create a solid layer or completely cover the previous layer. Repeat with a second layer of pasta, cheese, and vegetable red sauce. Finally, top the casserole with the second cup of shredded Italian cheese blend.
  • Cover the casserole with foil, making sure it doesn't touch the cheese on top. Place the casserole in the oven (still turned on to 400ºF) and bake for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, remove the foil and switch the oven from bake to broil. Broil the top of the casserole to brown the cheese for 3-5 minutes (watch closely as broilers can vary quite a bit from oven to oven). Top with chopped parsley if desired and serve!

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Notes

*If you do not have Italian seasoning, you can replace this with equal parts dried basil, dried oregano, dried marjoram, and thyme.
*If you do not have shredded Italian cheese blend, use equal amounts shredded mozzarella, Parmesan, and provolone. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 494.86kcalCarbohydrates: 60.24gProtein: 20.76gFat: 19.79gSodium: 681.56mgFiber: 5.35g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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How to Make Roasted Vegetable Baked Penne

Whole vegetables on a cutting board

For the roasted vegetables I used one red onion, one zucchini, one yellow squash, and one red bell pepper. You can choose just about any vegetable you’d like (see notes above the recipe for suggestions).

Diced vegetables on a baking sheet

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Dice the vegetables into 1-inch pieces. Place the diced vegetables on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables until they are coated in oil.

Roasted vegetables on the baking sheet

Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and roast, stirring once halfway through, for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and caramelized on the edges.

Diced onion and butter in a sauce pot

While the vegetables are roasting, begin the rest of the casserole. Start with the homemade red sauce. Dice one yellow onion and add it to a sauce pot with 2 Tbsp butter. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft.

Red sauce ingredients in the pot

Once the onions are soft, add one 28oz. can crushed tomatoes, 3 Tbsp tomato paste, 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning, 1/4 tsp salt, and ½ cup water. Stir to combine. Allow the sauce to come up to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low and let it continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are done roasting (about 30 minutes). 

Cheese mixture ingredients in a bowl

While the vegetables are roasting and the red sauce is simmering away, prepare the cheese. Stir together 15oz. ricotta, 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend, ¼ tsp pepper, and ¼ tsp salt.

Stirring red sauce into cooked pasta.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add 1 lb. penne and continue to boil until the penne is tender. Drain the pasta in a colander, then return it to the pot with the heat turned off. Add 1 cup of the red sauce and stir to coat.

Roasted vegetables added to the pot of red sauce.

Stir the roasted vegetables into the rest of the red sauce.

Layer one of baked penne in the casserole dish

Now that the sauce, cheese, and pasta are done, it’s time to start layering! Add half of the sauce-coated pasta to the bottom of a 9×13″ (3 quart) casserole dish. Next, add half of the cheese mixture in dollops, followed by half of the vegetable red sauce. Each layer will not fully cover the previous layer. You don’t need to spend time trying to spread it out. It will all melt together as it bakes.

Second layers of baked penne in the casserole dish

Repeat with a second layer of pasta, cheese, and vegetable red sauce. Finally, add the second cup of shredded Italian cheese blend on top.

Baked Penne casserole with foil covering half the dish

Cover the casserole dish with foil, taking care not to let it touch the cheese. Bake the casserole for 35 minutes.

Finished roasted vegetable baked penne in the casserole dish

After 35 minutes, remove the foil and change the oven from bake to broil. Let it broil for a few minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown on top. Top with a couple tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley for garnish, if desired.

Overhead view of roasted vegetable baked penne being scooped out of the casserole dish

Enjoy!

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  1. So yummy! We didn’t want pasta so we followed the recipe but X3 the veggies and cut them in slices rather than cubes. We added some cut up chicken breast and some mozzarella pearls. Yummmmm. The sauce is totally delicious.

  2. Hi! If assembling, freezing, and then baking later, what do you recommend?
    Should I defrost in fridge or pop right into the oven? Temp.? Time? Etc?
    Thanks! Prepping now for my son’s birthday!

    1. I’d probably fully defrost in the fridge first, so you don’t run the risk of it cooking unevenly. Unfortunately, I don’t know the oven time and temp without testing it, though.

  3. Absolutely perfect! So simple, yet so flavorful. Thank you Beth for another fantastic recipe!

  4. Hello and thank you for all the wonderful recipes! If making the baked penne to freeze, would you recommend completing the whole recipe and then freezing once it has cooled, or skipping the baking step until it’s time to defrost, bake, and eat it?

    1. The baking step only serves to heat everything through (there are no raw ingredients at that point), so it would probably save time to assemble then freeze and bake later. :)

  5. Crowd pleaser 2x over!!! A little bit of work unless you just buy red sauce but it’s way more satisfying making your own 

  6. I made this last night. It was delicious! I chopped up the veggies quite small for my toddler and added some ground beef to the sauce. I also made it ahead of time and stored in the fridge until 1 hour before dinner. Then popped into the oven until warm and melty!

  7. Great recipe! I Added portobellos bc I had some on hand  and crushed red pepper to the sauce- really good vegetarian meal that doesn’t feel like it’s missing something! 

  8. The best recipe I’ve found here. Roommates said they’d pay me for some! I used bottled marinara sauce , just 24 oz and it turned out fine. Broiling definitely makes it look really good.

  9. I followed the recipe exactly but added some chopped broccoli stems leftover from another recipe. I also used light ricotta. So good!

  10. This is so good! Ultimate comfort food. Its quite a bit of work and needs some coordination, but the effort is worth it. Have to walk away now before I eat my third helping :-)

  11. My rating was on prep and smell as it is baking now. I did a LOT of substitution because I was looking to use up what I had left over from the holidays. So the roasted veggies were a small beet, a large parsnip, and several handfuls of baby carrots. All were chopped to a similar size for roasting. The sauce changed a bit, too, as I had a leftover jalapeno as well as a green bell pepper. I added those to the chopped onion with a minced clove of garlic, some crushed red peppers and some cilantro. I also added a can of drained and rinsed black beans to the sauce after simmering, along with a splash of leftover pinot noir. Pasta was about 10 ounces of whole wheat penne left in the box from another small meal. The cheeses were cobbled together from leftovers from other recipes. I had about 10 ounces of cottage cheese and an 8 ounce bar of Neufchatel which I blended with a cup of shredded colby. I was pleased with the way it went together– the steps all layered together smoothly. I topped with another cup of colby before baking as directed. My daughter, who is a personal chef, always tells me to start with BudgetBytes. If there is not already a recipe, there will be one that is close to get me started! Thanks!

  12. Modifications to add some more vegetarian protein: subbed regular pasta for bean flour based pasta, added a can of white beans, and added some Italian seasoning to the ricotta mix. Assembled and sat overnight to “take and bake” to Christmas dinner and it was perfect!

  13. Delicious! I used jarred sauce (H‑E‑B brand) because…time. 
    Veggies I used: carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, red pepper, and cauliflower. It took up a whole baking tray. 
    I used cottage cheese bc that’s what I had and it was still amazing. 
    10/10 will be making this again. This is a great sharing dish. I made it in 2 9×9 pans and gave one to my neighbor.