We’ve been on a pasta-kick lately in the test kitchen, especially when pasta dishes are great to feed a crowd. The popular million dollar spaghetti has been on our minds but with tons of other pasta like penne, rotini and macaroni in the kitchen we decide to make million dollar pasta bake! The million dollar spaghetti recipe will definitely be on our next agenda, but for now we went ahead and devoured this penne version and we’re super glad we did.
Our million dollar pasta bake is essentially a kick-butt pasta dish with what ever recipe. So it’s quite versatile to make any pasta lover happy. What makes this such a superb pasta casserole recipe is that it’s loaded with sauce, cheese and cottage cheese! It’s essentially like a lasagna but without ricotta and instead, uses cottage cheese for the creamy layered centers. So this recipe for million dollar pasta is a fantastic and satisfying dish for lasagna lovers.
Watch the Million Dollar Pasta Bake Video:
It’s superb and absolutely delicious. If you’re looking for a different alternative to lasagna, this million dollar pasta bake will totally satisfy and warm the bellies. It’s one of this dishes that you can totally make ahead of time as well and it’ll make you look like an amazing host or hostess. Just assemble it the night before and take it out to come to room temperature for a bit. Then pop it in the oven and you have a fabulous instant party dish. If it’s just for a weeknight meal then even better because it freezes perfectly and you have dinner again for a few more nights.
You can use what ever pasta you like so the options are endless. Try adding some spinach and other veggies to make it super delicious and filling!
- 1 lb. (455g) penne, macaroni or rotini pasta, cooked to package instructions.
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup (60ml) chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup (120ml) sour cream
- 1 cup (240ml) grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 container (16 oz-455g) cottage cheese
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) olive oil
- 3 large cloves garlic , minced
- 1 medium onion , diced
- 1 lb. (455g) lean ground beef
- 1 red bell pepper , diced
- 1 (26 oz) jar of pasta/marinara sauce (or more if you like lots of sauce)
- Kosher or sea salt , to taste
- Fresh cracked black pepper , to taste
- 8 oz. (225g) mozzarella cheese, shredded
- (optional) extra minced parsley for garnish or fresh minced basil
Heat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease 13x9-inch (3-quart) baking dish.
In bowl, beat eggs, parsley, sour cream, parmesan cheese and cottage cheese. Set aside.
Heat large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Add garlic and onions and cook until softened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beef and cook for about 2 minutes. Add bell peppers and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until beef is cooked through. Remove from heat and add pasta sauce, salt and pepper. Stir until everything is combined well and set aside.
Add a thin layer of the meat/sauce mixture in the baking dish. Add half the cooked pasta in even layer, then add half of the cottage cheese mixture, spreading it evenly across the pasta. Add half of the mozzarella cheese evenly on top. Add the remaining half of the pasta, and then add remaining half of the cottage cheese mixture.
Pour the remaining meat/sauce mixture on top and spread it into an even layer on top of the casserole. Add remaining mozzarella cheese in an even layer over top. (Final layers from bottom to top -thin bit of meat sauce, pasta, cottage cheese mix, mozzarella, pasta, cottage cheese mix, majority of meat sauce, mozzarella).
Bake 30 to 45 minutes or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned on top. Allow casserole to cook about 5 minutes before serving.
(optional) Top with minced parsley or minced basil. Enjoy!