Serve Best Italian Pasta Bake recipe with ziti pasta, ground beef, cheese, olives, and delicious, plump tomatoes–with salad and bread.

Best Italian Pasta Bake with basil strips

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Friends, when we have a couple over for dinner and I’m not sure what to make, I look in our pantry. This time, for this Italian Pasta Bake recipe, I had everything in my kitchen. YAY! I love it when that happens.

It’s easy to make a pasta bake whenever I need to bring a potluck pasta dish. I know, it’s been awhile since we’ve heard the work “potluck.” But we hope to starting hearing it more and more now.

9x13 pan Best Italian Pasta Bake

Best Italian Pasta Bake Recipe

Fresh tomatoes add a nice touch to this recipe! In fact, the fresh tomatoes make the recipe! Also, top with fresh sliced basil and serve with hot crunchy bread and a side salad. SO good!

hot pan of Best Italian Pasta Bake

Ingredients for pasta bake:

  • Ground beef
  • Onion + garlic
  • Jar spaghetti sauce (we buy Pomodero Fresco Delallo brand)
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Sliced black olives
  • Italian seasoning + salt
  • Delallo Penne Ziti Pasta
  • Plum tomatoes
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil

9x13 pan Best Italian Pasta Bakes

A Cheesy Pasta Dish

You know how you usually make a pasta bake recipe and you just pile the cheese on top? This recipe has cheese mixed in the casserole, and then when you sprinkle on top, take a spoon and slightly mix it in.

It creates a more bubbly, well-mixed pasta dish.

spoonful of Italian Pasta Bake

Here are a few questions that I get asked when sharing pasta recipes!

Can I use uncooked pasta in this bake?

You want to cook the pasta first, because uncooked pasta can soak up too much liquid, which will leave the pasta bake very dry.

Should I cover pasta when baking?

No, bake the recipe uncovered. The tomatoes and sauce in this recipe provide enough moisture to bake it uncovered.

Best Italian Pasta Bake with fresh basil

Can I prep and freeze this recipe?

Yes, this unbaked Italian Pasta Bake freezes very well! Cover tightly with plastic wrap, then wrap tightly with foil.

When ready to bake, remove from the freezer 24 hours ahead of time and place in the refrigerator. Bring to room temp—and remove plastic wrap and foil—before baking.

Pasta is a good meal to share with others.

Here are some of my other favorite pasta dishes:

Best Four Cheese Pasta Bake

Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

Skillet Baked Ziti

cheesy Best Italian Pasta Bake

The Restoration of Celia Fairchild

We enjoyed this cozy meal the other night with our dear friends. We learned a little more about Marie’s brand new novel that she just wrote. I’m actually reading it now and it’s really good, with a lot of twists and turns—I’m hooked!

It takes place in Charleston, a place I’ve yet to visit (have you?)

You can buy The Restoration of Celia Fairchild, as it is available for pre-order now! [affiliate link]

Congrats, Marie!

9x13 pan Best Italian Pasta Bake
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Get the Recipe:

Best Italian Pasta Bake

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 8
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  • 1 1/3 pounds ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jar 25 ounces spaghetti sauce (we buy Pomodero Fresco),
  • 1 14-1/2 ounces diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 3.8 ounces sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pound Delallo Penne Ziti Pasta, cooked according to package directions; drained
  • 5 plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil, thinly sliced or chopped


  • In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain, or I like to pat a paper towel on top to absorb any grease.
  • Stir in spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes, olives, Italian seasoning, and salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350°. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain, but do not rinse the pasta.
  • Add pasta to beef mixture and gently stir in sliced plum tomatoes. Add in 1 cup of mozzarella cheese; mix together.
  • Prepare a 13x9-in. baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer the pasta mixture to the baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. With a spoon, gently mix in the cheese, but not all the way, leaving some on top. Bake 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and heated through, uncovered.
  • Sprinkle with finely chopped fresh basil and serve.
Cuisine: Italian
Course: Main Course
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Best Italian Pasta Bake