This [easy one pot pasta for a lazy dinner] is the first cooking video that went viral on my Tiktok and Pinterest page. Many people commented that it became a regular meal for them, but at the same time, an equal amount of people protested that it’s too much work to call it lazy. Admittedly, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and I’m used to cooking hot meals, but in fairness to the title, it took me a total of 8 minutes to shoot a video of me prepping this dish. Eight minutes including the time fidgeting with my camera. Once prepped and in the oven, most of the cooking is hands-off. Plus, there’s only one pot to wash!
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You can use a large dutch oven or a casserole dish for this recipe. I use an 8 quart Le Creuset enameled cast iron Dutch oven. I got my dutch oven almost a decade ago and still frequently use it, even while complaining how heavy it is. Once you have a dutch oven, you’ll quickly notice that it’s an essential item in the kitchen.
I grate one large or two small zucchinis into this dish, mainly for added nutrition but also for its creamy texture. I love adding grated zucchini to cheesy pasta (like this Green mac n cheese cups) because zucchini lightens the dish that is otherwise a bit heavy. Unless you cooked this meal yourself, you can’t tell if zucchini is in there or not, thus making this dish great for picky eaters. You may see specks of green from the zucchini skin, and if you’re worried about that, use yellow summer squash. It will completely disappear.
I am not trying to give you any feeding advice here. I’m aware of the debate whether to sneak veggies (or other ingredients) into your kid’s meal or not. That decision is up to you as a parent. I can only share how we approach meals in my family, and we sometimes blend in veggies and sometimes serve it whole or intact. My eldest would not eat zucchini on its own yet, but she doesn’t mind me mixing it into other foods. She often helps me cook in the kitchen, so she knows what’s going into her meals.
Good pasta sauce is a must
A good marinara sauce is a must in this recipe since that’s the main ingredient. We love Rao’s marinara sauce. 24 oz jar works great for this recipe, but if you shop at Costco, you can get 28 oz jars for a good price. I’ve made this pasta with 28 oz jar many times, and it works fine, just a little bit saucy. Whether you use 24 or 28 oz jars, use only 24 oz of water/broth. We want the pasta to absorb most of the liquid, which results in the best flavor.
Bone broth adds extra protein
An easy way to add extra protein to this easy meal is using bone broth. Kettle and Fire classic bone broth has 20g of protein in one box (16.9 oz). Click this link and use code WHITE.BLANK.SPACE for 20% discount.
To measure, pour broth into the empty 24 oz jar and fill the rest with water. Give a good shake, and add to the dutch oven. If using 28 oz jar, fill the jar up to 3/4 point. You’re gonna need to eyeball a bit.
Add uncooked pasta
The best part about this recipe is that you can add uncooked pasta straight to the dutch oven. You want the pasta to be soaked in liquid before baking. Shell, fusilli, or ziti pasta work best because they are easy to mix with the sauce.
Now cover and stick it in the oven for 25 minutes.
After 25 minutes in the oven, take the dish out. Add garlic, heavy cream, and mix. I love heavy cream in this pasta to soften the acidity, but you can omit it. I often top the pasta with shredded Mexican-style cheese or Cheddar Jack. It’s simply because we always have a giant bag or two from Costco at home. Surprisingly, it goes well.
Return to the oven, uncovered, and bake for additional 10 minutes until the cheese is melted. Enjoy!
Easy One Pot Baked Pasta
Super easy one pot meal that only takes less than 10 minutes of prep time.
- 1 large zucchini or 2 small zucchinis
- 24 oz or 28 oz jarred marinara sauce
- 24 oz water or broth
- 1 lb uncooked pasta
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- shredded cheese of your choice
Preheat the oven to 425 F
Using a coarse grater, grate zucchini in a large dutch oven or a casserole dish. I used an 8-quart dutch oven.
Add a jar of marinara sauce. To measure, pour broth or water into the empty jar, give a good shake, and add to the dutch oven. Add uncooked pasta. Mix well and make sure the pasta is soaked with liquid.
Cover and bake for 25 minutes.
Add minced garlic and heavy cream and mix. Top with cheese.
Return to the oven, uncovered, and bake for additional 10 minutes.
You can taste and season with salt, pepper, or any other spices you prefer at step 5. I keep it mild for my kids.
You can use either 24 oz or 28 oz jar of sauce. 28 oz will simply be more saucy.