I originally saw this recipe for Neapolitan Layered Pasta Bake on the Rachael Ray show. I knew right then and there that it would be a hit with my family. I have made a couple of minor changes to it and made it with some variations from time to time (ideas below).
It is a very quick and easy recipe to prepare. It was an instant hit with my family and quickly became a much-requested family favourite. We love that it can be a meatless meal (which is the way we most often serve it) or that we can throw some leftover meats and/or vegetables into it. It’s that versatile!
QUICK AND EASY NEAPOLITAN LAYERED PASTA BAKE
Even though it’s so quick to make from scratch having some heat and serve batches are not only handy for busy days but they make great meals to take to new parents or others who could use some premade meals on hand.
QUICK AND EASY NEAPOLITAN LAYERED PASTA BAKE
This is a very quick and easy recipe to prepare. It was an instant hit with my family and quickly became a much-requested family favourite. Serve it as a meatless meal or add some leftover chicken or beef to it.
- 1 lb pasta dry – use any kind you like – macaroni, ziti, rotini etc.
- 28 oz pasta sauce Your own or commercially made. Our favorite with this recipe is a rose sauce.
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp garlic minced or we use the jarred type
- 1/2 tsp black pepper freshly cracked is best; adjust to taste
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 cups milk
- 11 oz mozzarella cheese shredded
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese shredded – Optional. We’ve made it without and it’s still really good. If you use it, don’t use the powdered kind.
Prepare the pasta according to package instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, I begin working on the Bechamel sauce. Melt the butter over low to medium heat.
Once completely melted, stir in the flour.
You’re making a roux here so you want to stir this and heat it for about a minute to make it into smooth paste. I usually turn the heat up a little bit at this point to medium.
Whisk in the milk and continue heating and stirring until it thickens up and you have a smooth white sauce.
Stir in the nutmeg.
Drain the cooked pasta and toss it with your pasta sauce until well-coated.
Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Trust me, you’ll need this step to ensure that the casserole releases well from the pan. We sometimes use a small roasting pan when we’re making a double batch!
Dump the prepared pasta into the pan.
Pour the white sauce over the pasta evenly.
Top with cheese.
Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 20-30 minutes. Note: Rachael used a 400 degree oven but I found this too hot and my casserole would dry out too quickly. Everything is cooked so basically you just want the casserole to heat through and the cheeses to melt and get a bit bubbly (similar to lasagna).
As with all pasta casseroles, you might want to let this rest for a few minutes before cutting and serving. We’re sometimes too anxious and go ahead and serve it up right away. It still tastes good but it never cuts into nice squares for serving that way.
Rachael Ray used canned whole tomatoes (I recommend those from San Marzano) but these would flare up my tomato sensitivity so I switched to our favorite pasta sauce. Ours has some seasoning in it already so you might find that if you’re using canned tomatoes, that you want to increase the seasoning amounts.
Make this recipe even quicker and easier to make by using prepared pasta sauce and pre-shredded cheese from the store. There is even a new pasta out there that is a quick cooking time so you could have this on the table in a flash.
Variations on the Basic Neapolitan Layered Pasta Bake:
This recipe is also delicious with some boneless cooked chicken breast cut up and added to it or some sliced pepperoni thrown in but honestly, my absolute preference is the meatless version. It’s just so smooth and creamy!
A friend of mine tried this recipe and she threw some leftover (this IS a good one to make when you have some leftover meats to use up!) shrimp in it and she said it was very tasty. I’ll take her word for it – I’m allergic to shellfish!
Want to veg it up? Add some leftover cooked broccoli or spinach. It’s really yummy!
The leftovers are really yummy and this recipe freezes beautifully! We always make at least a double batch so that we have leftovers to freeze and take for lunches. Serve with a simple tossed salad and some garlic bread for a complete meal.
If you try this recipe for Neapolitan Layered Pasta Bake, let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you thought of it or any changes you made.
Looking for another quick and easy weeknight pasta meal idea? Check out this recipe for Easy Lasagna Style Pierogi Casserole!