My vegetable pasta is a terrific recipe to cozy up with when a meal that's both comforting and chock-full of healthy veggies is what you crave. Prepared with a zesty tomato sauce bursting with loads of zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, onions and garlic, this vegetable pasta recipe has an ooey-gooey mozzarella topping to make it extra irresistible!
A Hearty Pasta with a Veggie-Full Twist
Being a lover of veggies, I'm always looking for delicious ways to incorporate more of them into my recipes.
While my hubby and I are not vegetarian, like many people we're looking to cut back on our meat consumption whenever possible. This is a terrific motivator for me to create recipes for us which are thoroughly satisfying, utterly comforting and cozy, and bursting with amazing flavor and texture.
Enter this delicious vegetarian “delight”, my mouthwatering vegetable pasta with mozzarella!
This hot and bubbly pasta recipe is our new favorite vegetarian pasta, and I came up with this little ditty in between the holidays when we were looking for something simple, chock-full of veggies, and a little “cleaner”.
We ended up eating the entire pan over the span of just several days (I had initially thought I'd be freezing a portion of this recipe—nope!), and frankly, probably could've enjoyed it for longer.
And I love how easy it is to prepare...
It's basically a zesty tomato sauce filled to the brim with loads of sauteed zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, onions, garlic and herbs, then combined with pasta, topped with mozzarella cheese, and baked until gooey and melted!
Hungry to eat your veggies, yet?
My Quick and Easy Vegetable Pasta Recipe
What I love about this pasta recipe is that it is quite quick and easy to prepare. It requires just a few very simple ingredients, but boy, do they pack a flavor punch!
When I prepare the sauce, I begin by sauteing most of the veggies in olive oil with aromatics such as onions, garlic, and dried herbs, and then add a combo of good quality crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes into the pan to allow all of the flavors to marry and deepen.
The sauce really only takes a short while to simmer, about 15 to 20 minutes, which is terrific. And while my sauce is simmering, I'll just boil some corkscrew pasta (or "fusilli") to have ready and on hand to combine together with my sauce.
All that's left to do is top the vegetable pasta with delicious, creamy mozzarella cheese, then bake!
Here's a sneak peek at my vegetable pasta recipe with mozzarella: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To prepare the sauce, I give my zucchini a very quick sear in the pan as to not overcook it, then remove it from the pan; next goes in the diced onion until it becomes slightly golden and softened, followed by my sliced mushrooms, and then the rest of my aromatic ingredients.
- Next, I add in my tomato products and allow the sauce to simmer for 15-20 minutes before finally folding in my sauteed zucchini, spinach, and fresh herbs at the end.
- While the sauce simmers, I cook my pasta according to package instructions, then drain and keep warm.
- I then add the pasta directly into my sauce and gently fold everything together to combine, and either keep it in the pan (if oven safe), or spoon it into a baking dish, top with mozzarella and bake for a few minutes until melted and bubbly.
Vegetable Pasta with Mozzarella
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 484 calories per serving
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
- Olive oil
- 1 large zucchini (or 2 small), sliced into semi-circles (roughly 2 cups worth)
- Black pepper
- 1 large onion, diced
- 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms (or button mushrooms), sliced
- ¼ cup dry white wine (optional)
- 8 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 (28 ounce) can organic crushed tomatoes
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
- 10 ounces uncooked corkscrew pasta (or your choice of pasta)
- 1 cup (tightly packed) baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 ½ cups grated, whole milk mozzarella cheese
- 4-5 fresh basil leaves, for garnish
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your ingredients according to the ingredients list above to have organized and ready for use.
- To prepare your sauce, place a large, deep, Dutch oven (about 3 ½ - 4 qt.) or other large, deep, heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat, and add about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil; once hot, add in your sliced zucchini, along with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, and allow it sear for a couple minutes, and become slightly golden yet still crisp. Remove the zucchini from the pan and set aside.
- Next, add into the pan a touch more oil (about 2 tablespoons), and add the diced onion, along with a couple of pinches of salt and black pepper, and allow the onion to soften for a few minutes. Then, add in the sliced mushrooms, and allow those to saute with the onion for a few minutes more, until they become golden and softened.
- Pour in the white wine, if using, and allow it to reduce for 15-30 seconds. Next, add in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning, and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Add in the tomato paste, and stir for a moment or two, to incorporate; then, add in both the crushed and diced tomatoes with juices, add a couple more pinches of salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Bring the sauce to the simmer and allow it to gently simmer, with a lid askew, for about 15-20 minutes.
- While the sauce simmers, cook your pasta according to package instructions, and then drain and hold warm.
- Preheat your oven to 350°.
- Once the sauce has simmered for 15-20 minutes, turn off the heat and fold in the sauteed zucchini, along with chopped spinach and the parsley, and stir to incorporate just until the spinach wilts into the sauce. Check to see if additional salt and pepper is needed.
- Add the cooked pasta directly into the sauce and combine together. (Or, add the sauce to the cooked pasta and combine, if easier.)
- If using an oven-safe pan or pot, then leave the pasta in that pan and sprinkle over top the mozzarella, then bake for 10 minutes, just until the cheese is melted. Otherwise, spoon the pasta mixture into an oven-safe baking dish, sprinkle with mozzarella, and bake for 10 minutes until the cheese is melted.
- Finish the vegetable pasta by tearing up a few fresh basil leaves and sprinkling over top as garnish, before serving.
Tips & Tidbits for my Vegetable Pasta with Mozzarella:
- Add your favorite veggies: I happen to really love the very simple combination of the veggies called for in my ingredient list, but feel free to be creative! This is a terrific recipe to help use up veggies in your veggie drawer. So if you have cut green beans, asparagus, or yellow squash, feel free to substitute those, even if for just a portion of what's called for.
- Choose your favorite pasta shape: For this vegetable pasta recipe I opt for corkscrew or fusilli pasta. I like the shape and how the sauce coats each twist. However, feel free to use penne, rotini, rigatoni, or any other type of pasta that will add some body and shape.
- Whole milk mozzarella for best meltability: While you can certainly use part skim mozzarella, I recommend using shredded whole milk mozzarella for baked pasta dishes. It melts really well, with nice “stringy” results, and the flavor is creamy and rich. You can even sub a four cheese blend here if you prefer.
- Make this recipe ahead for convenience: If you'd like to make this vegetable pasta recipe ahead of time to have ready to bake and serve, then simply prep the sauce, cook the pasta, and keep them separate in the fridge. Then, when ready to enjoy, reheat the sauce, combine with the pasta, top with cheese, and bake!