Classic Baked Penne pasta bake made with easy tomato sauce and lots of cheese. This easy homemade spaghetti sauce is made with aromatic roasted garlic and fresh basil.
Cheesy pasta bake is always a pleasant, comforting dinner for a family night. Who doesn’t love pasta and cheese, right?
This delicious baked penne is made with an easy homemade spaghetti sauce. The sauce might be homemade but it’s truly very easy. It can also be made ahead of time, which is a great.
To make this tomato sauce bursting with delicious flavor, I made it with roasted garlic and fresh basil. Roasted garlic does take about 30-35 minutes to make but just like the sauce, it can be made ahead of time.
Sometimes, I make 2 or 3 roasted garlic bulbs at the same time and I keep them in the fridge to use throughout the week. Roasted garlic is great to spread on a toast, to mix into creamy pasta sauce, to add to pasta salad, potato salad, into meatballs, meatloaf, and so much more.
How to roast garlic:
Roasting garlic is very simple and only takes a few steps. Think of it a cut, drizzle, wrap, and bake.
Start by cutting off the very tip of the garlic bulb (leave skin on) and place it on an aluminum foil square, big enough to wrap it in.
Drizzle the bulb with some olive oil over the top. (I also like to sprinkle it with a little salt.)
Wrap the garlic bulb in aluminum foil, place it on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes. Exact time will depend on the size of the garlic bulb. You are looking for golden brown color of garlic.
How to make spaghetti sauce:
There are two ways to make your own tomato spaghetti sauce. I refer to is as “the easy way” and “the harder way.” Really, the difference is if you’re using canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes.
Since we’re talking easy tomato sauce, then we will be using canned tomatoes.
Choose crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes, just make sure there is no skin.
Start by sauteing onions and garlic and then add tomatoes.
Add herbs and seasoning and cook for about 45 minutes over low heat.
As a last step, add Parmesan cheese and transfer everything into blender to blend. Please be careful, the sauce is very hot.
Transfer blended sauce back into the pot and cook for a few minutes longer, giving cheese a chance to melt and cook into sauce. Take off heat.
You can store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for a few days. I would recommend keeping it for 3-4 days and not more.
If you like this pasta bake, you will love some more pasta recipes:
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Basil and Roasted Garlic Baked Penne
- 1 garlic bulb
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- pinch salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 Vidalia onion diced
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
- 2 tsp thyme dry or fresh
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
- Cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 lb penne pasta
- 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese to mix
- 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese to top
- 2 tbsp freshly minced basil to top
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Cut off tips from garlic cloves still on the bulb (leave skin on) and place them on an aluminum foil square that you can wrap it in. Drizzle some olive oil on the garlic bulb. Wrap it in aluminum foil. Place wrapped garlic on the baking sheet.
- Bake garlic for 25-30 minutes, depending on the size of the bulb.
- Take out of the oven and set aside to cool down.
- Preheat medium pot over medium heat and add oil.
- Add diced onion and saute until transparent.
- Add can of crushed tomatoes and roasted garlic. (Easiest way to get garlic out of the skin is to gently squeeze it out.) Stir well and bring to simmer.
- Add bay leaf, basil, thyme, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir well, lower heat to low, cover and cook for about 45 minutes. Stir once in a while.
- Take out bay leaf.
- Add Parmesan cheese and transfer the content of the pot into a blender. Cover and blend until smooth.
- Pour sauce back into the pot and let it cook for a new more minutes, so that the cheese gets a chance to incorporate.
- While sauce is cooking, cook pasta according to package instructions, strain and set side.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Mix pasta with pasta sauce and 1 cup of Mozzarella cheese. Transfer into a lightly greased casserole dish.
- Top pasta with some more fresh basil and Mozzarella cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes.