Big-Batch Meals: Baked Penne With Roasted Vegetables

By Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD | May 7, 2020 | Rally Health

Baked Penne

Lasagna is classic comfort food for a crowd, but it’s also labor-intensive and often loaded with saturated fat and sodium. We took those same Italian flavors and gave them a healthier spin by using whole-grain pasta and adding roasted vegetables. These changes boost fiber content as well as nutrients such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, and potassium. Part-skim ricotta keeps saturated fat in check.

You can add or substitute other roasted vegetables if desired; squash, zucchini, carrots, or cauliflower all work nicely here. (Just adjust roasting time accordingly; like broccoli, carrots and cauliflower brown up in 15 minutes, while squash and zucchini only require eight to 10). To serve, pair with a green salad drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette. You can revive leftovers with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan or a handful of chopped fresh basil.

Whatever you don’t eat can be stored in an air-tight container and refrigerated for up to five days. If you’re planning to freeze this and eat it later, don’t bake it. Instead, after you’ve assembled the ingredients in Steps 1 through 6, below, cover the casserole tightly and store. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours when you’re ready to use it, and bake as directed.

Baked Penne With Roasted Vegetables

Serves 10
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes


1 (13.25-oz) box 100% whole-wheat penne
1 (12-oz) pkg fresh broccoli florets (about 4 cups), cut to bite-sized, uniform pieces
1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 (24-oz) jar lower-sodium marinara
1/3 cup sliced fresh basil
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 (8-oz) pkg shredded five-cheese Italian blend cheese


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Toss broccoli and onion with oil, garlic powder, and ¼ tsp salt. Spread across a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes, stirring after 10, or until edges are starting to brown.

3. While vegetables roast, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well; return to pot. Add marinara and basil to cooked pasta, and stir to combine.

4. Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon half of pasta mixture evenly across the bottom of baking dish.

5. In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, egg, and 3/4 tsp salt. Stir well.

6. Dollop ricotta mixture over pasta in baking dish, using back of spoon to spread. Top with roasted vegetables followed by remaining pasta. Sprinkle with Italian cheese.

7. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until warm throughout, covering with foil halfway through to prevent over-browning if needed.

NUTRITION FACTS (1 serving ): Calories 322; Total Fat 14g (Saturated Fat 5.5g); Cholesterol 46mg; Sodium 618mg; Total Carbs 38g (Dietary Fiber 5g, Total Sugars 5g, Added Sugars 0g); Protein 19g


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