Fake-Baked Pasta Dinner

Fake-Baked Pasta Dinner

Fake-Baked Pasta Dinner

Y’all it’s been colder than cold these past few days! Even though tomorrow it starts warming back up and we will be back in the 70s by Thursday, it’s still too cold for me to function after the sun sets (at 5 pm no less). So needless to say when I realized that I had nothing planned for dinner tonight, I panicked. Yesterday’s weather was colder than Saturday’s and never got higher than 28°F, so even though we had snow on Saturday, the icy spots in our community’s parking lot made me skip my usual grocery shopping and keep my happy butt in pjs all day. But that lead to tonight’s panic since my final obvious “use up” meal was the breakfast casserole I made for dinner last night.

The hubs and I were discussing a trip to the grocery store and in an effort to avoid it, we were going through everything edible we had available. He was cool with soup and peanut butter sandwiches but I wanted something more filling. He mentioned we had tomato juice in the fridge and that lead the way to tonight’s completely random dinner- a fake-baked (meaning it went into the oven fully cooked) pasta complete with cheesy garlic bread. 

(Sorry there are no photos of the meal. We ate before I even thought to take pictures so these images are from www.rgbstock.com.)

This fed three adults and easily could feed another (and possibly a few more). As it used ingredients I had on hand, if you make this, it can contain anything you have handy. It wasn’t meant to be meat-free, I just had zero meat on hand. I served it up with plenty of extra grated parmesan cheese and some sweet tea I brewed while making dinner.

Fake-Baked Pasta Dinner

Fake-Baked Pasta Dinner with Cheesy Garlic Bread

Pasta Bake Ingredients 

8 oz (dried) Elbow Pasta, Cooked Until Just Done

Seasoned Breadcrumbs 

Grated Parmesan Cheese 

Shaved Parmesan Cheese 

Sauce Ingredients 

Olive Oil

1 Medium Onion, Diced

2 Garlic Cloves, Minced

1 can Mushrooms, Drained

15 Grape Tomatoes, Halved

1 cup Broccoli, Chopped

4 tbsp Basil, Chopped

20 oz Tomato Juice 

1 Bay Leaf 




Dried Thyme 

Dried Rosemary 

Crushed Red Pepper Flake 

Italian Seasoning 

Cheesy Garlic Bread Ingredients 

3 Slices of Bread, Halved 

2 tbsp Butter, Melted 

1 Garlic Clove, Minced 

Shaved Parmesan Cheese 

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place bread slices on a baking sheet and toast for 4-5 minutes, just to dry out the bread a little. Mix together butter and garlic in a bowl, set aside.

2. Add olive oil, onion and garlic to a pan on medium-high. Season with salt and pepper and cook until onions soften, about 5 minutes. 

3. Add in mushrooms, rosemary, thyme and crushed red pepper flakes to taste. Cook until heated, about 2 minutes. 

Fake-Baked Pasta Dinner4. Add in tomatoes and broccoli. Cook until tomatoes soften, about 5 minutes.

5. Carefully pour in tomato juice, stirring constantly to mix well. Add in bay leaf, basil and season to taste. (For me this meant adding in a little sugar and my signature tomato move of ground cloves and cinnamon.)

6. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Taste occasionally to make sure your seasonings are good and adjust as necessary. Let reduce and thicken until the consistency of a jarred sauce. Depending on your ingredients, this could be a few minutes or 20-30. Took mine about 15. (If it’s taking forever or for extra flavor, toss in some breadcrumbs and/or grated cheese.)

7. Add cooked pasta to a casserole dish and slowly add in sauce, stirring to mix well. Top with breadcrumbs, grated and shaved cheese. Put in oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are browned and the cheese bubbly. 

8. To finish the bread, pour the butter/garlic mixture evenly over each half slice and top with cheese. Add to oven during the last 5 minutes. After pulling out the bake, switch the oven to broil and brown up the edges of the bread (this goes FAST! Like a minute fast, so keep your oven mitts on and an eye on the bread).

9. Scoop up your delicious fake-baked pasta dinner that didn’t cost you an extra dime!

What are some of your favorite pantry/use-up meals? Tell me in the comments!