Baked Penne Pesto Pasta
This 6-ingredient, oven-baked penne pesto pasta recipe is a super easy and cozy vegetarian dinner idea. Pasta is tossed with broccoli, cremini mushrooms, and pesto sauce, topped with shredded cheese, and baked in the oven until the cheese is melted and browned. Can be made vegan, gluten-free, or with added chicken or shrimp!
If you’re searching for the coziest weeknight dinner, you’ve come to the right place. This cheesy pesto pasta bake mixes penne pasta with broccoli, mushrooms, and a whole lot of pesto sauce. Leftovers of this recipe can easily be reheated and enjoyed as part of your weekly meal prep, too.
While pesto pasta on its own is delicious, there’s just something about BAKING pasta that brings it to a whole other level of coziness 😉
Despite being the ultimate comfort food, this dietitian-designed dinner is also packed with nutrition! It’s filled with fiber-rich veggies (broccoli + mushrooms), and pesto is a source of fresh basil and heart-healthy fats. You can use store-bought pesto, but I’ve also included 4 different homemade pesto recipes for you to choose from.
While this baked penne pasta recipe is vegetarian, I’ve included ways for you to modify it to be either vegan and/or gluten-free. If preferred, you can also add chicken or shrimp to it as well. It’s super versatile!
Want more pasta recipe inspiration? Check out my roundup of 20+ easy, healthy pasta recipes for more ideas!
About the ingredients
All you need to make this baked pesto pasta are 6 simple ingredients:
- Penne pasta: I used penne pasta for this recipe, as it’s an excellent shape for pasta bakes! That said, you are welcome to use another short pasta shape of choice. For gluten-free diets, be sure to use a certified gluten-free pasta. For a higher protein pasta, feel free to choose one made from legumes, like chickpea pasta!
- Broccoli: To get some extra veggies in! Broccoli pairs wonderfully with pesto. You can use a large crown of broccoli, or purchase pre-cut broccoli florets.
- Cremini mushrooms: Likewise, mushrooms also go so well with pesto sauce! I used sliced cremini mushrooms here, but you are welcome to use other varieties if desired.
- Olive oil: Used to pre-cook the veggies in a pan, before combining them with the rest of the ingredients.
- Shredded cheese: Added to the top of the pasta, before baking in the oven. You can use any cheese you like – just go for one that will melt well. I personally used a combination of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano and smoked cheddar!
- Pesto sauce: You can use ANY type of pesto sauce for this recipe! Feel free to choose your favourite store-bought option, or select from some of my homemade pesto recipes below:
TIP: For a vegan option, omit the cheese on top and swap with nutritional yeast OR a dairy-free alternative. Store-bought pestos usually contain cheese, but you can select from the first 3 pesto recipes I shared above – all of them are easily made vegan by using nutritional yeast 🙂
Full ingredient measurements and detailed instructions are located in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post!
Step-by-step: how to make baked pesto pasta
While your pasta water boils and oven heats, cut a crown of broccoli into small florets and slice cremini mushrooms.
Cook penne pasta al dente, according to package directions. Drain when done!
While pasta cooks, sauté the broccoli and mushrooms in olive oil in a large pan.
After about 8-10 minutes of cooking, remove the veggies from heat.
Add the cooked penne pasta and pesto sauce to the pan. Stir everything together until the pesto coats all the noodles and veggies.
Transfer the pasta mixture to a large baking dish or casserole dish. Sprinkle shredded cheese of choice all over the top of the pasta.
Place the casserole dish in the oven and allow to bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned. Remove from oven and garnish with fresh basil and black pepper (if desired). Serve hot!
How To Store & Reheat
Leftovers of this recipe can be stored for about 3-5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
My best recommendation for reheating is to do so in the oven (350F x 10 mins). This will maintain the crispness of the top baked layer. If you’re in a pinch though, you can use a microwave!
Feel free to enjoy this recipe as part of your weekly meal prep. Enjoy on it’s own, or pair alongside your favourite protein!
More healthy pasta bake recipes:
- Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole
- Taco Pasta Bake With Crumbled Tofu
- Eggplant Pasta Bake With Tomato & Zucchini
- Baked Tomato Pasta With Feta, Eggs & Basil
Did you give this Easy Baked Penne Pesto Pasta Recipe a try? Let me know by leaving a comment and recipe rating below!
If you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram or Pinterest – seeing your creations always makes my day. You can also subscribe to my email list to never miss a new recipe or nutrition education post!
Get the Recipe: Easy Baked Penne Pesto Pasta
- 2 heaping cups penne pasta, dry
- 1 large crown broccoli (about 4 cups of florets)
- 8 large cremini mushrooms (about 2.5 cups sliced)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil (to cook veggies)
- 1 cup pesto sauce (store-bought or homemade – see notes)
- 1.5 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar + parmesan)
- Salt + pepper, to taste
- Optional garnish: fresh basil
- PREP: Preheat oven to 400F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Chop broccoli into small florets and slice mushrooms thinly. Set aside.
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions, being sure not to overcook (al dente is preferable for baked pasta as it will continue to cook in the oven).
- While the pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium. Sauté the broccoli and mushrooms with salt + pepper, for about 8-10 minutes.
- Make pesto if preparing from scratch (see notes for homemade pesto recipes). If using store-bought pesto, skip this step!
- Once all the ingredients are cooked, drain the pasta and remove veggies from heat. Add the cooked pasta to the pan of broccoli and mushrooms. Stir in pesto, making sure to combine all ingredients well. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Transfer the pasta mixture to a large baking dish or casserole dish. Sprinkle shredded cheese all over the top of the pasta.
- Place the casserole dish in the oven and allow to bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.
- Remove from oven and garnish with fresh basil and black pepper (if desired). Serve hot!
- hemp seed pesto (this is my go-to pesto recipe – you can swap the hemp seeds with any nut or seed, like pistachios, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds)
- sun-dried tomato red pesto
- zucchini pesto
- ricotta pesto
- Leftovers of this recipe can be stored for about 3-5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
- My best recommendation for reheating is to do so in the oven (350F x 10 mins). This will maintain the crispness of the top baked layer. If you’re in a pinch though, you can use a microwave!
- I used penne pasta for this recipe, as it’s an excellent shape for pasta bakes! That said, you are welcome to use another short pasta shape of choice. For gluten-free diets, be sure to use a certified . For a higher protein pasta, feel free to choose one made from legumes, like !
- You can use any cheese to top the pasta – just go for one that will melt well. I personally used a combination of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano and smoked cheddar!
- For a vegan option, omit the cheese on top and swap with OR a dairy-free alternative. Make sure to use a dairy-free pesto as well (see my homemade pestos above!)
- For a non-vegetarian option, you may add cooked chicken or shrimp to the pasta before it bakes in the oven.
As a dietitian, I create recipes with whole food ingredients that provide the nutrients needed for optimal health. My nutrition philosophy does not focus on numbers; however, I understand that this information can be helpful.
Do note that the nutrition info provided is an estimate and I cannot guarantee correctness of the displayed values. These numbers will differ depending on brands used, recipe modifications, and amount eaten. If you require specific nutrition information due to medical reasons, please consult with your dietitian or physician.