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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Baked Penne Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

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This cheesy, healthy, baked penne pasta recipe is so easy to make and packed full of tasty, nutritious ingredients. Lightened up with roasted veggies, paired with a rich tomato sauce, it’s a meal that the whole family will enjoy!

Baked penne pasta with roasted vegetables served on a white plate

Baked ziti (or if you like penne better than ziti – baked penne pasta) is traditionally made with white pasta and loaded with cheese, sometimes meat, and very few vegetables — which makes it refined carb heaven, but not that great for you. But why can’t baked penne be healthy too? My version is comforting, homey, amazingly flavorful, but so good for you that you could literally eat it every day – completely guilt-free.

Close up of baked penne pasta with roasted vegetables on a white plate

The first time I made this my husband LOVED it – he said it was hearty and couldn’t believe it was good for him too. This dish was inspired by a recipe I found from Giada De Laurentis – which is more like a traditional baked penne pasta. With a few simple swaps, my version is healthier and doesn’t skimp on any of the flavor from the original!

Ingredients to make baked penne pasta

How to make Healthy Baked Penne Pasta with Roasted Vegetables – step by step

Step 1: Chop all the veggies and preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

roasted Vegetables - squash, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, peppers - on a baking tray

Step 2: On a baking sheet (or in a casserole dish/large pan), toss the peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and onions with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and dried herbs. Roast until tender, about 15 minutes.

Roasted vegetables and other ingredients for the baked penne pasta

Step 3: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes. Don’t overcook your pasta! It will cook a second time in the oven, so you want to make sure the inside is still hard. Drain and set aside.

Step 4: Once the veggies are done, toss the drained pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, cheeses, peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. If you used a large casserole dish/pan to roast the veggies in, you can just dump all of the additional ingredients (pasta etc.) into that pan to mix everything together (that’s what I’d recommend!). Using a wooden spoon, gently mix, until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined.

All ingredients in a glass casserole dish
Ingredients for the baked penne pasta - pasta, veggies, cheese, sauce - mixed together

Step 5: Top the pasta with the remaining cheese (about 1/3 cup).

Shredded cheese on top of the rest of the pasta ingredients

Step 6: Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

Baked Penne Pasta just out of the oven

I love how gooey and bubbly the cheese gets once it’s all melted! The veggies were perfectly cooked, and the whole wheat pasta gave the dish a great nutty quality. You could even substitute in lentil penne pasta for a gluten-free version that’s packed with even more protein!

A spoon lifting up some baked penne pasta from the casserole dish

What makes this baked penne pasta healthy?

These simple healthy swaps make this baked penne pasta decadent, luxurious, but one serving has only 350 calories and 8.5g fat! Here’s how to make baked penne pasta healthy:

  • Use whole wheat penne pasta, lentil pasta or chickpea pasta for a whole grain, high fiber alternative to white pasta.
  • Tons of veggies! A mix of squashes, mushrooms, and peppers adds fiber and antioxidants to this dish. You can even add 4 cups of chopped baby spinach to your marinara sauce before mixing it with the pasta to sneak in some extra greens if you like!
  • Less butter and oil – 1.5 tbsp is all you need for flavor and a nice caramelized quality to the veggies
  • Less cheese than a traditional baked penne pasta. Healthy doesn’t mean you have to go with out cheese – and is it even a pasta bake without it?! But 1.5 cups is plenty and you still get that gooey, melted cheese crust on top!

Can you make baked penne pasta gluten-free?

Absolutely! I used whole wheat pasta which is higher in fiber than white pasta, but you could use a lentil or chickpea pasta instead, which would make this dish completely gluten free. If you use a lentil/chickpea pasta, you want to cook it for half the time listed on the package (so if it calls for 9 minutes of cooking time, you want to cook it for about 5 minutes before mixing it with the veggies/sauce/cheese and baking it).

Will kids like this baked penne pasta recipe?

Yes!! This dish is completely kid friendly. If you have kids that don’t like the “look” of veggies, I recommend cutting the veggies super small after you roast them, to make them less conspicuous in this dish. I recently served this pasta to a room full of picky eaters, and they devoured it all!

Close up of baked penne pasta with roasted vegetables on a white plate

Top tips for making Healthy Baked Penne Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

  • Make sure to use a large, deep casserole dish for baking so that you can fit everything into one dish!
  • To save on cleanup, roast the veggies in the dish you’re going to bake the pasta in.
  • You can make this ahead of time – follow the steps to step 5 in the recipe, then cover and keep in the fridge until ready to cook later that day.
  • Leftovers should be kept in an airtight container in the fridge – they will last for up to 4 days and gently reheated in the microwave or oven. You can also freeze this recipe in an airtight container – it will keep for up to 3 months! To reheat from frozen, defrost in the microwave on low and then heat in the oven on 350 until warmed through.
  • Don’t overcook your pasta. I recommend cooking it for 50-60% of the time recommended on the package. It should still be a little hard inside when you drain it, and it will continue to cook while it’s in the oven.
Baked Penne Pasta on a white plate in from of the casserole dish

Be sure to check out these other healthy pasta recipes

Top shot of baked penne pasta in a glass casserole dish

If you have tried this healthy baked penne pasta with roasted vegetables recipe, or any other recipe on my blog, then please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family friendly food!

Print Recipe
5 from 5 votes

Baked Penne Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

This cheesy, healthy, baked penne pasta recipe is so easy to make and packed full of tasty, nutritious ingredients. Lightened up with roasted veggies, paired with a rich tomato sauce, it's a meal that the whole family will enjoy!
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 350kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

  • 3 bell peppers (yellow, orange or red) cored and cut into 1-inch wide strips
  • 2 zucchini quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 summer squash quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 8 cremini mushrooms halved
  • 1 yellow onion peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips
  • 1.5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt divided
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper divided
  • 2 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
  • 5 cups marinara sauce store bought or homemade
  • 1.5 cups frozen peas thawed
  • 1-1.5 cups shredded Italian cheese keep about 1/3 cup for the topping separate (I used a fontina, mozzarella & parmesan blend)

Instructions

  • Chop all the veggies and preheat your oven to 450 degrees
  • On a baking sheet (or in a casserole dish/large pan), toss the peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and onions with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and dried herbs. Roast until tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes. Don't overcook your pasta! It will cook a second time in the oven, so you want to make sure the inside is still hard. Drain and set aside.
  • Once the veggies are done, toss the drained pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, cheeses, peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. If you used a large casserole dish/pan to roast the veggies in, you can just dump all of the additional ingredients (pasta etc.) into that pan to mix everything together (that's what I'd recommend!). Using a wooden spoon, gently mix, until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined.
  • Top the pasta with the remaining cheese (about 1/3 cup).
  • Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

Notes

Top tips for making Healthy Baked Penne Pasta with Roasted Vegetables
  • Make sure to use a large, deep casserole dish for baking so that you can fit everything into one dish!
  • To save on cleanup, roast the veggies in the dish you’re going to bake the pasta in.
  • You can make this ahead of time – follow the steps to step 5 in the recipe, then cover and keep in the fridge until ready to cook later that day.
  • Leftovers should be kept in an airtight container in the fridge – they will last for up to 4 days and gently reheated in the microwave or oven. You can also freeze this recipe in an airtight container – it will keep for up to 3 months! To reheat from frozen, defrost in the microwave on low and then heat in the oven on 350 until warmed through.
  • Don’t overcook your pasta. I recommend cooking it for 50-60% of the time recommended on the package. It should still be a little hard inside when you drain it, and it will continue to cook while it’s in the oven.
Adapted from FoodNetwork.com

Nutrition

Calories: 350kcal | Carbohydrates: 59.9g | Protein: 16.1g | Fat: 8.5g | Sodium: 551.2mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 10.6g
healthy baked penne with roasted vegetables-healthy food yummy, healthy delicious food, healthy food tips for picky eaters, picky kids meals

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36 responses to “Baked Penne Pasta with Roasted Vegetables”

    • It’s not actually that spicy because I made this recipe more kid friendly, but if you want more spice just add a lot more crushed red pepper to either the sauce or the roasted veggies before you bake it! Then it will definitely be spicy enough for you! 🙂

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