Who doesn’t love a rich, gooey pasta bake, especially when all the work was done weeks ago? In this freezer-friendly recipe, we undercook the penne so it’s perfectly al dente (never overdone) once baked. Garnish with parsley or basil before serving.


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp unsalted tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 16-oz BPA-free can crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp each ground black pepper and red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz whole-grain penne pasta (TRY: Jovial 100% Organic Einkorn Whole Wheat Penne Rigate)
  • 1 cup whole-milk cottage cheese
  • 4 oz grated mozzarella cheese



1. Heat a large skillet on medium- high. Add beef and cook, breaking up with a spatula, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Drain beef and transfer to a plate.

2. To skillet, heat oil on medium- high. Add onion, carrot and celery; sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Add tomato paste and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 45 seconds. Add broth and bring to a simmer, scraping up browned bits. Add tomatoes, Italian seasoning and bay leaf. Return beef to skillet, stir and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf; season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

3. Meanwhile, boil pasta until just underdone, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain; rinse with cool water and drain again.

4. Pour pasta into an oven-safe 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish. Stir in 3 cups tomato sauce-beef mixture. Top pasta with dollops of cottage cheese. Spoon remaining tomato sauce-beef mixture over top; sprinkle with mozzarella. Cover and refrigerate until completely cool, 1 hour. Wrap dish in foil. Freeze up to 3 months.


5. Preheat oven to 375°F. As oven warms, let frozen pasta sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. (NOTE: Going directly from freezer to oven may cause some glass baking dishes to shatter from heat shock.) Bake, covered, until bubbling and heated to an internal temperature of 165°F, about 1 hour. Remove foil and bake until top is golden brown in places, 5 to 10 minutes.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
  • Calories: 423
  • Carbohydrate Content: 40 g
  • Cholesterol Content: 65 mg
  • Fat Content: 17 g
  • Fiber Content: 5 g
  • Protein Content: 30 g
  • Saturated Fat Content: 7 g
  • Sodium Content: 703 mg
  • Sugar Content: 8 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content: 7 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content: 1 g