This Spicy Baked Pasta with Vegetarian Meatballs is really easy to make and only requires 5 ingredients! It’s great for a quick weeknight family meal but also nice enough to serve for a special dinner.
This Spicy Baked Pasta with Vegetarian Meatballs is a delicious meal that I make regularly. It’s made with only 5 ingredients, that I usually have on hand, but it also feels a little fancy with the added Calabrian chili peppers.
If you’re like us, you probably eat some type of pasta with sauce at least once a week. It can feel a bit boring after a while, but this Spicy Pasta Bake is a fun way to shake things up a bit!
Spicy Pasta Bake with Vegetarian Meatballs Recipe Ingredients
- Pasta – You can use any kind of pasta you like for this pasta bake. I recommend a smaller, bite sized pasta rather than long spaghetti noodles. I used these large fusilli from Trader Joe’s and loved that they were a little larger than regular pasta noodles. Gluten free pasta can easily be used as well.
- Vegetarian Meatballs – The Gardein plant-based meatballs pictured above are my favorite vegetarian/vegan meatballs to use (they are not GF). These days you should easily be able find plant based “meatballs” at most grocery stores.
- Pasta Sauce – I just used a pretty cheap, store brand sauce for this recipe because I’ve been trying to save money at the grocery store lately and my usual favorite, Rao, is not cheap! You can use any brand you like, or homemade.
- Calabrian Chili Peppers – I bought this jar of crushed Calabrian chili peppers at the grocery store. You should be able to find them at most grocery stores these days. At my grocery store, they were in the aisle with the tomato sauce if I remember correctly.
- Cheese – I used a mixture of Monterey Jack and mozzarella cheese. You can use any kind you like. Melty cheese is great in pasta bakes but feta or goat cheese would be delicious too!
How To Make This Easy Spicy Pasta Bake with Veggie Meatballs
- Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add your dry pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions (I like to add a spoonful of salt to help flavor the pasta since there aren’t many ingredients in this recipe), drain and add back into the pot.
- While the pasta is cooking, I like to heat a large pan over medium heat with a small amount of olive oil and brown the meatballs. You don’t have to cook them all the way through because they will cook in the oven, but I like to get brown them for a few minutes before adding them into the pasta. This step is totally optional though! You can just put the meatballs straight in frozen.
- Add your pasta sauce and Calabrian chili peppers to the pot of pasta and mix well. The amount of chili peppers will depend on how spicy you like your pasta! Give it a taste and add extra peppers or salt, if needed. This is the point where you could stir in some veggies (peas, cooked broccoli, spinach, kale, etc) if you wanted to.
- Add pasta to a large baking dish, whatever shape you like, and spread pasta out. Next, top with about 3/4 of the grated cheese. Then, place the meatballs on top of the pasta and gently press them down a little bit. Top with remaining cheese and cover with foil.
- Bake pasta with foil for about 15 minutes, uncover and bake until cheese is completely melted and pasta is bubbly, 5-10 more minutes. I like to top the pasta bake with a few small spoonfuls of Calabrian chili peppers to show what is in the pasta and to reinforce that delicious flavor. You can also garnish with fresh herbs if desired.
Baked Pasta Recipe Frequently Asked Questions
- Is this recipe vegan? No, I used real cheese, but it can easily be made vegan by using vegan cheese.
- Is this recipe gluten free? No, but it can easily be made gluten free by using gluten free pasta noodles.
- Can this recipe be made ahead of time? Yes, this recipe can be completely assembled up to 2 days in advance and then baked in the oven just before eating.
- Can this baked pasta be frozen? Yes, this recipe is freezer friendly. I would recommend assembling pasta bake in a freezer friendly, oven safe container and then baking from frozen when ready to eat. You could also store in a freezer safe ziplock bag and then thaw on the counter for a couple hours before dumping in a pan and baking.
- How long do leftovers last in the refrigerator? If stored in an airtight container, leftovers should last at least 4 days.
Have a question that I didn’t answer? Ask me in the comment section below and I will get back to you ASAP!
Looking For More Easy Vegetarian Pasta Bake Recipes?
If you are constantly feeling overwhelmed by planning and preparing dinner every weeknight, make sure to check out my new WEEKLY MEAL PLANS! I send them out every Saturday morning so make sure to sign up for my mailing list if you are interested!
Each meal plan includes 5 vegetarian dinner recipes that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less and a printable ingredient list to help with your shopping list.Print