Mozzarella and Penne Pasta Bake

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This gooey pasta dish is baked to warm, comforting perfection. Perfect for weeknight family dinners, potlucks, or even a casual dinner party, this meal is warming and satisfying. And the best part is that it is far lower in fat and calories than many pasta and cheese dishes.

Start off with whole wheat penne pasta, which has higher fiber than white pasta. It’s less processed and refined, and better for your blood sugar and your waistline. Add part-skim mozzarella, which is just as tasty as whole milk mozzarella, with just a fraction of the calories and fat. Sugar-free tomato sauce and fresh tomatoes add vitamin C and antioxidants including lycopene. And basil adds flavonoids and anti-inflammatory properties.

Plus, the flavor profile of this dish is a classic combination that can’t be beat. Tomatoes and basil are the perfect complements to one another. Zesty, acidic tomato pairs perfectly with earthy, fresh basil, making a pairing that’s tried and true. Add some mozzarella, and you have the perfect topping to al dente pasta.

This dish is also a great jumping off point or other fabulous pasta bakes. Try pasta baked with broccoli, cauliflower, and cheddar. Or mix your noodles with spinach, garlic, and black pepper, with a dose of Parmesan. Pasta bakes are terrific as family favorites, crowd-pleasers, and as weeknight go-to’s. With just a bit of creativity and some careful selection of ingredients, they can be as healthy as they are scrumptious!

Mozzarella, Basil, and Tomato Pasta Bake

Mozzarella, Basil, and Tomato Pasta Bake

Yields: 6 servings | Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe, or 1 cup | Calories: 343 | Total Fat: 4 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Trans Fat: 0 g | Cholesterol: 1 mg | Sodium: 133 mg | Carbohydrates: 72 g | Dietary Fiber: 16 g | Sugars: 6 g | Protein: 10 g | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 10

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked whole grain penne or ziti
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella
  • 1/2 pint (1 cup) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar-free marinara sauce, homemade or store bought, such as Ragu Lite or Amy's Pasta Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 10 basil leaves, torn into a few pieces each

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Coat a baking dish with a light layer of cooking spray on the bottoms and sides.
  3. In a large bowl stir together all of the ingredients, besides the basil, and add to the dish.
  4. Heat for 20 minutes, uncovered, or until the dish is bubbly and the cheese is melted.
  5. Top with fresh torn basil leaves, to serve.
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