This post has been sponsored by Jarlsberg® Cheese. All opinions expressed are my own.
Layers of pasta, fresh tomatoes, homemade breadcrumbs, and nutty Jarlsberg® come together for a hearty family meal that is easy to make and sure to please!
Today we’re putting together one of my favorite things in the world – a pasta bake, and we’re doing this with a little help from my friends over at Jarlsberg® Cheese, more on them in just a minute.
A cross between a baked ziti, a crisped pasta pie, and pan fried spaghetti, today’s pasta bake is a hardy combination of breadcrumb crusted ziti, melted cheese, fresh basil and tomatoes, which all comes together to create a hardy, family friendly meal.
Why You’ll Love Today’s Pasta Bake
1) One Pan, One Meal. While this recipe can easily be served alongside steaks or burgers, similar to how you would serve a macaroni and cheese as a side, today’s pasta bake is hardy enough to serve as a meal unto itself.
2) Reheat Friendly. Today’s pasta bake is sublimely reheat friendly, since it neither dries out nor hardens during the reheating process. However, for best results I suggest either giving it a quick re-bake in the oven at about three-hundred degrees for ten to twenty minutes, or stovetop in a cast iron pan over low heat until warm, though be sure to coat the bottom of the pan in olive oil.
3) Make Ahead. One of things I personally love most about today’s pasta bake can be fully assembled, and then left in the fridge for up two days before baking – with no adverse effects to taste or texture. This means you can prep this on Saturday or Sunday, and have it for dinner Monday night, with reheat-friendly leftovers on Tuesday.
Ingredient Tips and Notes
1) The Pasta. While I opened by comparing this to pan fried pasta and spaghetti pie, I’m personally of the opinion that ziti are the ideal pasta for today’s recipe. Spaghetti or linguine simply wouldn’t layer as nicely – in fact they would risk turning to ‘mush’ – while larger tube macaroni such as rigatoni would simply create too much space between the layers, resulting in fewer layers and less ‘density’ of ingredients. Nevertheless, feel free to experiment, and if you do try a different type of pasta let me know how it turned out!
2) Fresh Basil vs Dried. As a rule, fresh herbs tend to have a ‘brighter,’ ‘crisper,’ and ‘cleaner’ taste than their dried alternatives, as well as a less concentrated or ‘powerful’ flavor overall. With that in mind, you typically want to use fresh herbs in place of dried when the ‘clean’ or ‘bright’ qualities that typify fresh herbs won’t become overpowered by a strong assortment of flavors, or where their ‘crispness’ won’t be destroyed by a harsh cooking process. For today’s recipe, since we’re using a relatively light, quick baking process in which the fresh ingredients will largely remain intact, you’ll want use to fresh basil if you have it on hand.
3) But where’s the ricotta? I opted out of using ricotta since I felt the addition of ricotta would risk turning to today’s pasta bake ‘soupy,’ since ricotta loses quite a bit of its mass to liquification during melting, since that same liquification, combined with sauce, is what gives lasagna and baked ziti their delicious ‘oozing’ quality. However, I wanted today’s bake to be a bit firmer and more solid, and to hold its shape when serving.
4) The Melting Cheese – Do’s and Don’ts. For the layers of today’s bake, you want a mild melting-friendly cheese that will remain somewhat ‘firm’ after melting, and that’s relatively flavor neutral. Hear me out. Cheddar would simply turn this into glorified mac-n-cheese (not that that’s a bad thing), similarly mozzarella would be delicious but wouldn’t remain firm enough after baking to allow the recipe to keep its shape – ditto taleggio, gruyere, and fontina. This brings us to today’s cheese – Jarlsberg.
5) Jarlsberg® Cheese. A semi-soft cheese, Jarlsberg remains somewhat ‘firm’ after melting, which will allow the pasta bake to hold together beautifully. Mild in flavor, with just a hint of sweet nuttiness, Jarlsberg fits the bill for today’s pasta bake absolutely deliciously. Beyond recipes like today’s pasta bake, Jarslberg is a great ‘all purpose’ cheese to have on hand, whether putting it out on a cheese board for company, or slicing it up onto sandwiches. For more info, or to order some cheese for yourself, check them out over at www.jarlsberg.com
Some of My Other Favorite Uses For Jarlsberg
1) On Burgers. A good quality burger paired with crisped bacon, a solid artisan roll, and a few generous slices of Jarslberg – that’s a match made in heaven.
2) Warmed Sandwiches. Warmed sandwiches, such this beef au jus is a delicious use for Jarslberg cheese. Its melds beautifully with the gravy, while the thinly sliced beef and warmed veggies deliciously complete the scene.
3) Marinated for Antipasto. I just posted this one recently, but I was so happy with how it turned it I just had to include it here. Like I mentioned above, Jarlsberg is perfectly at home on an antipasto board surrounded by cured meat, olives, and crusty bread.
Italian Pasta Bake featuring Jarlsberg
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 4-6 1x
- 2 – 8oz. wedges of Jarlsberg® Cheese – shredded
- 3 – 4 beefsteak tomatoes – sliced
- 5 – 6 cloves of garlic – chopped
- 1 bunch of fresh basil – leaves removed from stems, cleaned and dried
- 1/4 cup of fresh Romano cheese – grated
- 1 tsp. of dried oregano
- 1 tsp. of salt
- 1/2 tsp. of fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. of red pepper flakes
- 1 cup of Italian style breadcrumbs
- 3 tbs. of butter
- 1 lb. of ziti
- 3 – 5 tablespoons of olive oil and more for drizzling
- Place the sliced tomatoes in a large bowl, add the fresh chopped garlic and 10 – 12 leaves of fresh basil.
- Add two to three tablespoons of olive oil and the seasonings and gently toss so that you do not break the tomatoes.
- Heat a large cast iron frying pan and place the tomato mixture in the pan and heat just until the tomatoes soften a bit.
- Prepare the ziti as directed and drain.
- Heat a smaller cast iron frying pan and place the butter in the pan. When the butter melts add the breadcrumbs and toss to absorb the butter.
- Combine the grated Jarlsberg® Cheese with the grated Romano cheese and toss.
To Build the Ziti Bake:
- Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the bottom of a large cast iron frying pan and line the pan with a layer of the ziti.
- Top the layer of ziti with a layer of the tomato slices followed by a layer of the breadcrumb mixture followed by a layer of the cheese mixture, followed by a few fresh basil leaves.
- Continue this process finishing with the cheese mixture and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Let the dish sit for 15 – 20 minutes before baking.
- Preheat Oven to 350 degrees F. and bake for 25 – 30 minutes.
- Let the dish rest for about 12 – 15 minutes before slicing.
- Serving Size: 1
Did you make this recipe?
If so, let me know in the comments down below, or post a picture to Instagram, or to Pinterest, and I’ll give you a shoutout on Instagram, or post your pin to one of my Pinterest boards!4
So comforting and yummy! Anything with cheese has got to be delicious, right 🙂
Oh my does this recipe look good and talk about comfort food!
Matt Freund says
This looks really good. I love that nutty tasty cheese. Never tried on pasta. I’m gonna try this.
I love Jarlsberg cheese too, but I always just use them as sandwich cheese, or burger cheese. Now I want to try them with this baked pasta. 🙂
Aimee Mars says
A pasta bake is one of my favorite types of meals too! It’s one I can always get my kids to eat and this one looks divine with the Jarlsberg cheese.
This turned out wonderful. Nice crunch on the top with the cheese, and loved the layered tomatoes.
That’s just the kind of thing that my family would devour. Who doesn’t love past and cheese? No one. That’s who.
So delicious and I love using a cheese I don’t normally use like Jarlsburg. Thanks!
Sondra Barker says
This looks so delicious. My mouth is literally watering! The perfect dinner meal for the family. (Reciprocated by Natasha Romero-Salas)
The ultimate comfort food! Cheese, pasta, and breadcrumbs. It’s like the perfect combination of all my favorite things! SO good!
Explore The 6 says
I love pasta, this is something I would totally try, sounds delish 🙂
Yeah Lifestyle says
With a 30 minute cooking time, this dish is great for a weekday meal when I am rushing for time to prepare a quick meal. We love Jarlsberg cheese and would love to give this a go.
DAVID J MYERS says
Catherine, Winner Winner, Pasta Dinner! This creation with Jarlsberg Cheese looks and sounds great. I wonder what it would be like with a little spicy Italian sausage added into the mix… Take Care, Big Daddy Dave
Myrah Duque says
I’m hungry!!! So delicious I can eat the whole thing. I have never used Jarlsburg cheese, maybe I should.
Shannon Gurnee says
That looks like some yummy cheese. I would love to try this recipe sometime.
Yum! Italian pasta bake with Jarlsberg is a little different. We only ever use Italian cheeses so a bit of variety is good!
Oh yum that looks like a tasty meal! Thank you for sharing the recipe. I will definitely be trying it out soon.
Love anything with cheese and pasta. I’m no Italian here but I just love these types of food. Thanks so much for this new baking recipe that includes cheese. Definitely is a must-try.
Lori | The Kitchen Whisperer says
Oh this looks so comforting and perfect for a cool fall day. I could see this served with a loaf of crusty bread, some wine and sitting by the fire! I love anything with pasta and cheese and man this sounds good!
Chef Dennis says
Yum! This is mouthwatering!!! Italian Pasta Bake is really perfect for weeknight dinner. I will definitely try it with Jarlsberg .
If there was a no-fail dish to fill up and feel good about it, that would be pasta bake like this. The ingredients are so well-chosen, and the whole process is so easy to replicate. Thank you!
This is genius. Love the flavor combo of the cheeses and that you use fresh tomatoes. Thanks for the how-to pictures, it’s fun to see this easy dish come together.
GUNJAN C Dudani says
oh my gosh! this looks so tempting. Its lunch time for me and I am starving. I have to plan this for dinner for sure.
Leslie Kiszka says
I love their cheese – and it complements this dish so perfectly. This looks like such ooey, gooey comfort food that would be perfect for the cold weather!
This is definitely a main course dish in my house! Love the fresh tomatoes instead of sauce! Perfection!
You made my Midwestern heart sing with cheese and baked pasta dishes! This looks so good can’t wait to make this. I never heard of Jarlsberg cheese before I went on their website and saw that their cheese are also lactose free so I’m very curious to try it.
What a delicious and hearty dish! You can never go wrong with pasta, it makes such a great meal any time of the year.
We love baked ziti at our house and jarlsberg cheese. We loved your twist on a classic dish! The fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil added such a freshness to this . This will go into our regular dinner rotation.