The “recipe” for Creamy Pasta Bake
Here’s how to make this creamy pasta bake with “everything goes”:
Pasta Sauce with Cream
The creamy pasta bake is made with a creamy white sauce that enhances the flavor of any dish.
Here’s everything you’ll need – and it’s incredibly versatile, so check the notes for alternate ingredients and substitutes for each one.
- Pasta — any long or short pasta, save risoni/orzo, rice-sized pasta (use this recipe instead).
- Butter may be replaced with olive oil, and 1 cup of flour can be used for cream (if you can). Butter adds flavor, so don’t skip it. Use margarine instead of butter.
- Flour — any flour will do. Plain white/all-purpose flour is used by default. Cornflour/cornstarch can be used instead (for GF option)
- Any milk will suffice. Milk powder, dairy, non-dairy, total fat, low fat, fresh, extended life (reconstituted). Water can be used in place of 1.5 cups of milk.
- Chicken or veggie stock powder OR bouillon cube
- 1/2 cup more parmesan cheese + salt to taste
- Fresh (from the fridge) parmesan is preferred, but long-life parmesan can suffice (i.e., the parmesan sold in the pasta aisle).
- 1 tsp more stock powder can be substituted.
- Is there no stock powder or parmesan cheese?
- Instead, use shredded cheese!
- Meat, veggies, bacon, ham, and fish are all good additions. Fresh, cooked, canned, frozen, and pickled foods are also available. More information on items that require cooking vs. things that don’t require cooking may be found below.
How to make a creamy pasta bake using whatever you have on hand
To begin, assemble your Add-Ins and assess whether any of them require cooking. Because the pasta bake will only be in the oven for around 25 minutes, raw meat and veggies will need to be cooked before combined with the pasta and sauce. See the list below for items that should be prepared ahead of time.
Then try one of the following methods:
1. No-Cook Ingredients
- For example, canned tuna, frozen and canned maize, baby spinach, and olives.
- Prepare the creamy sauce, then pour it over the prepared pasta and Add-Ins, toss to combine, and bake.
2. Raw Instructions
- Zucchini, bell peppers/capsicum, and mushrooms are raw meats and raw veggies.
- Chop everything up and cook it on the stove with a bit of oil and a touch of salt and pepper;
- Mix the flour, then add the milk and flavorings for the creamy sauce.
- The flour will thicken the sauce as it warms up.
- Pour it over the spaghetti, toss to combine, and bake.
3. Vegetables For Roasting
- Because roasting enhances the flavor of any vegetable, I recommend it for roastable vegetables such as pumpkin, eggplant, sweet potato, and even broccoli and cauliflower.
- Cut into 2.5cm/1? chunks;
- drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper (add a sprinkle of dried herbs if you want)
- Roast for 20 minutes at 220°C/430°F, stirring once during the last 5 minutes until caramelized on the edges;
- Make a creamy white sauce in the meantime; and
- Toss the spaghetti with the roasted vegetables and bake.
- 500g / 1lb pasta (any length except risoni/orzo) (Note 1)
- One tbsp salt (for water)
- SAUCE WITH CREAM (NOTE 2 FOR SUBS)
- 4 tbsp (60g) unsalted butter
- 2 minced garlic cloves (optional, sub 1 tsp powder)
- 5 tbsp flour (any kind) (GF option Note 2)
- 5 cups (1.25 liters) any fat, and Milk
- 2 tsp chicken or vegetable stock/bouillon cube or powder
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese (75g)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Select One Flavoring (Optional)
- One teaspoon dried thyme and parsley (or any other dry herbs)
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard, garlic, and onion powder
- Raw or cooked meats, bacon, ham, diced vegetables (frozen, canned, fresh), canned or fresh fish are all possible additions (Note 3)
Raw Ingredients For Cooking (Like Raw Chicken, Mushrooms, Zucchini)
- One tablespoon olive oil
- seasoning with salt and pepper
Topping With Cheese
- 2 cups (200g) shredded cheese (Note 4)
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pasta – Bring a pot of water to a boil with one teaspoon of salt. Add the pasta, return to a spot, and cook according to the package guidelines, minus 2 minutes. It was just cooked, with a slight firmness in the center. Return to the pot after draining.
Raw Meat & Vegetables Cooking
- Melt half the butter and one tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Cook your raw meat and veggies with a sprinkling of salt and pepper after 10 seconds of stirring in garlic. The core must be thoroughly cooked before baking; it will not cook in the oven.
- Melt the remaining butter. Mix in the flour, then go to step 2 of the Creamy Sauce recipe.
Sauce With Cream
- If you don’t know how to cook, start here. Ingredients (such as canned tuna): Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic for 10 seconds before adding the flour.
- Pour about 1/3 of the milk in at a time while mixing. Pour in the remaining milk and stir once the flour-butter mixture has been incorporated into the milk.
- Mix the rest of the milk, stock powder, parmesan, pepper, and herbs (if used). When the milk begins to heat up, continually stir to prevent the white sauce from sticking to the base.
- The sauce should be thick enough to trace a trail across the back of a spoon after 4 to 5 minutes (see video).
Bake & Assemble
- Put the cooked pasta back into the pot. Combine sauce and no-cook Add-Ins in a mixing bowl.
- Spread the mixture in a large casserole dish, cover with cheese, and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. Serve!
1. Pasta – risoni/orzo and other little pasta will not provide enough volume for this dish; use this recipe or boil twice as much pasta.
2. Substitutes for the components in the creamy sauce:
- Substitute olive oil for the butter, and replace 1 cup of milk with cream (if possible) to add richness and flavor. Butter adds flavor, so don’t skip it.
- Any flour will do, including white, wholemeal, self-rising, and gluten-free.
- Gluten-free cornflour/cornstarch substitute: Add 3.5 tbsp of the mixture to the milk with a splash of water.
- Milk of any kind. Milk powder, dairy, non-dairy, total fat, low fat, fresh, extended life (reconstituted). Water can be used to replace up to 1.5 cups of milk.
- Chicken or vegetable stock/bouillon powder, cube, or spice (Vegeta is my favorite).
- 1/2 cup more parmesan cheese + salt to taste
- Fresh (from the fridge) parmesan is preferred, but long-life parmesan can suffice (i.e., sold in the pasta aisle).
- 1 – 1.5 teaspoons additional stock powder
- Is there no stock powder or parmesan cheese?
- Instead, use 2 cups shredded cheese!
3. Meat, veggies, bacon, ham, and fish are good additions.
- cured meats, cooked chicken or other meats, ham, maize, canned salmon, and tuna
- spinach, fresh or frozen (or another leafy veg)
- canned peas, corn, and sliced vegetables*
- zucchini, green onion, red onion, shredded carrots
- maize, sun-dried tomatoes, capsicum/bell peppers, pickles, olives – canned, jarred, and pickled veggies
- Cooking-required add-ins:
- raw meats (chicken, beef, lamb, pig, turkey, pork), fish, prawns/shrimp, bacon, sausage
- Zucchini, carrot*, zucchini, bell peppers/capsicum, broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkin, sweet potato, eggplant? fresh veggies
- garlic, onion
- Meats that are still raw:
- The boneless thigh is the best, followed by breast and ground/minced chicken.
- 500g/1lb ground/minced meat – chicken, beef, pork, turkey, with 1/2 teaspoon each onion, garlic, paprika, and thyme, plus 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- Use steaks, chops (cut into bite-size chunks or strips), and pork tenderloin for chopped meats.
- Fish – fillets of any white fish or salmon Whole fillets are seared, then flaked and stirred into the sauce. Alternatively, cook fish cubes in the sauce, as shown in the video with chicken.
- Use stewing beef instead; it will be rough and chewy.
- Once thawed, frozen chopped vegetables are softer, providing them an advantage in the kitchen. As a result, little frozen vegetables do not require precooking, whereas fresh vegetables must. Option for ROASTING (for vegetables)
- Cut into 2.5cm/1″ chunks.
- Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper (add a sprinkle of dried herbs if you want)
- Roast for 20 minutes at 220°C/430°F, tossing halfway through;
- Add to pasta, toss with sauce, and bake according to the directions.
4. Topping – Panko, plain breadcrumbs, and parmesan are all options. If you don’t have any of them, brush with butter and bake; it will still have a crust!
5. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days before reheating in the microwave. Because this pasta bake is saucier, it keeps better than other pasta bakes, so you don’t wind up with sad, dried-up, stodgy leftovers.
6. To prepare ahead of time or freeze, toss boiling spaghetti with a dab of butter and a sprinkle of oil (stops it bloating). Allow sauce to cool before tossing and assembling the pasta bake. Refrigerate for four days or freeze for three months, then defrost and bake for 30 minutes. OR bake from frozen, foil-wrapped for 50 minutes or until steaming hot in the center, then uncover and bake until golden spots appear on the cheese.
7. Nutritional information per serving, assuming 600g/1.2lb chicken breast and 3 cups frozen carrot, corn, and peas are used.