Easy Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto Pasta Salad is a favorite for a summer picnic, barbecue or even a potluck! Bright pesto, mozzarella cheese balls (AKA bocconcini), sun dried tomatoes and kalamata olives are the perfect combination! I love pasta salad recipes and this is definitely near the top of my list!

Colorful and flavorful, this basil pesto pasta salad will wow any crowd! Serve it as a side with grilled honey mustard chicken or on its own with a slice of homemade garlic bread!

Image of prepared pesto pasta salad in a glass bowl with tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and olives.

How to Make Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto Pasta Salad combines our favorite Italian inspired ingredients in a creamy pesto dressing! Juicy ripe tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and olives and zesty sundried tomatoes and the perfect combination.

  1. Pasta: Cook pasta al dente (‘to the bite’). Cool and set aside. Any medium pasta shape should work just fine!
  2. Dressing: Whisk together pesto, mayonnaise, and red wine vinegar in a small bowl.
  3. Mix: Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and season with basil, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours before serving.

Pesto pasta salad prepared in a glass bowl with the basil and dressing on the side.

Add Protein for a Full Meal

I love an Italian Pasta Salad and we often add proteins to for a complete meal on a warm summer night. Grilled chicken breasts are the perfect addition to this recipe to make it a full meal! Shrimp is another great addition.

I prefer to use homemade pesto to make the easy dressing for this pasta salad but store bought will work too. Use any leftover pesto to marinate your meats before grilling.

A serving of pesto pasta salad in a white bowl, garnished with basil.

Leftover Pasta Salad

This pasta salad will last for 4-5 days in the fridge. If you know you’ll be storing this for a few days, don’t half the cherry/grape tomatoes, keep them whole.

Can Pasta Salad be Frozen? Pasta salad is best eaten fresh. Fresh veggies and pasta can often become mushy when frozen and defrosted.

More Delicious Pasta Salads

Pesto Pasta Salad

This refreshing pasta salad is the perfect combination of mozzarella, tomatoes and olives!

  • 8 oz tortiglioni or rotini pasta (cooked and cooled)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes (diced)
  • 1/2 cup small mozzarella balls
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives (pitted)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  1. Mix pesto, mayonnaise and red wine vinegar in a small bowl.
  2. Combine pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella and olives in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and season with salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
  4. Chop fresh basil and sprinkle on top just before serving

 

REPIN this Fresh Salad

Pasta salad in a small white bowl, showing cherry tomatoes, olives and mozzarella balls

This pesto pasta salad recipes is a fresh favorite! It is loaded with pasta, tomatoes, olives and mozzarella balls and tossed in a tangy vinaigrette! #spendwithpennies #pestopastasalad #coldpastasalad #sidedish #capresepastasalad
This pesto pasta salad recipes is a fresh favorite! It is loaded with pasta, tomatoes, olives and mozzarella balls and tossed in a tangy vinaigrette! #spendwithpennies #pestopastasalad #coldpastasalad #sidedish #capresepastasalad

Ramen Noodle Salad

cabbage and ramen noodle salad

Ramen Noodle Salad is a potluck favorite! This easy salad is a delicious version of a traditional Coleslaw Recipe with crisp cabbage, bean sprouts, shredded carrots and ramen noodles are tossed together in a simple sweet Asian vinaigrette! Top with sunflower seeds or toasted almonds for a delicious nutty crunch!

This easy recipe is perfect taken to any potluck dish or served alongside BBQ Chicken or Asian Beef Skewers!

Ramen Noodle Salad with cabbage and carrot slices

To Make Ramen Noodle Salad

Ramen Noodle Salad has been a potluck staple for as long as I can remember!  It’s an easy (and inexpensive) coleslaw to put together and absolutely everyone loves it!

While it may surprise you, the ramen is added to this salad uncooked.  Once it is dressed it does sit in the fridge for a bit and the noodles soften up creating the perfect texture.  You can use any flavor of noodles you like (chicken or beef are my favorites) but make sure you don’t throw away those seasoning packets, they are added to the dressing.

ramen noodle salad in wooden bowl with wooden spoons

Loaded With Fresh Veggies

We eat a ton of cabbage in our household (since a couple of our go to dishes are Cabbage Roll Soup or Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole).  Of course, this Ramen Noodle Salad is another reason to have a fridge full of cabbage!

I love the crunch fresh cabbage gives this recipe and I most often use a mandolin slicer to chop it quickly.  Using a mandolin, shreds the cabbage thinly, slices the red peppers and even juliennes the carrots!

ramen noodle salad in wooden bowl

Variations for Ramen Noodle Salad

Cabbage:

  • Change green cabbage for your favorite Chinese cabbage or even bok choy.
  • Skip the shredding and use a couple of packages of coleslaw mix or even make ramen salad with broccoli slaw.
  • Make sure you have about 10 cups of shredded mixture.
  • If using the packaged slaw mix, I usually add in some extra carrots.

Vegetables:

  • While I use bell peppers and bean sprouts, you can add in other veggies too such as canned baby corn, broccoli florets, mushrooms or even water chestnuts for some crunch.

Dressing:

  • Sesame oil packs big flavor (and we add it to stir fries, Asian noodles or dips)!

This Ramen Cabbage Salad is the perfect make ahead dish and will be the first thing gone from your potluck table!

More Potluck Favorites

Ramen Noodle Salad

Ramen Noodle Salad is a potluck favorite! Crisp cabbage, bean sprouts, shredded carrots and ramen noodles.

  • 6 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 3 cups shredded purple cabbage
  • 3 cups julienned carrots
  • 3 cups fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 red pepper thinly sliced
  • 3 green onions (sliced)
  • 2 packages ramen noodles (seasonings reserved for dressing)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

DRESSING

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • seasoning from ramen packages
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  1. In a large bowl, add green & purple cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, red pepper & green onions. Break up the ramen noodles and add them (uncooked) to the cabbage mixture.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients. Pour over ramen mixture and toss to combine. Top with sesame seeds and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

I use chicken flavored ramen noodles, but you can use any flavor you like.

More Recipes You’ll Love

Oriental Ramen Noodle Salad! Crunchy cabbage & tons of yummy veggies with ramen noodles tossed in a quick sesame dressing. This is easy to make & a great summer side and perfect for bbqs! You can use coleslaw mix to make it extra quick!
Oriental Ramen Noodle Salad! Crunchy cabbage & tons of yummy veggies with ramen noodles tossed in a quick sesame dressing. This is easy to make & a great summer side and perfect for bbqs! You can use coleslaw mix to make it extra quick!

Easy Spaghetti Pie {family favorite}

Spaghetti pie is the perfect dish for a kid friendly weeknight dinner or to serve to a group of hungry guests. This spaghetti pie recipe pulls together all of the best aspects of a comforting Italian classic – pasta – cheese, a zesty meat sauce, and more cheese! 

Serve with a green salad tossed with Italian vinaigrette dressing and a loaf of warm garlic bread. After all, when it comes to spaghetti pie, it’s all about no fuss basics!

A slice of spaghetti pie topped with cheese on a plate

Spaghetti Pie Ingredient Prep

Spaghetti pie is exactly what it sounds like. A crust of spaghetti & cheese topped with our favorite Homemade Spaghetti Sauce and more cheese. The whole thing is baked until bubbly and then sliced and served like a pie.

What’s in Spaghetti Pie? Spaghetti pie casserole is layered and the flavors remind me of lasagna (but I think it’s easier to prepare).

  • Crust
    • The “crust” is made of noodles mixed with eggs and cheese.
    • The eggs bind everything together so that you can easily cut your baked spaghetti pie into wedges.
    • We use spaghetti but any long pasta will work in this recipe.
  • Sauce
    • This recipe uses a version of my favorite pasta sauce recipe.
    • Simmer the sauce to make sure it’s thickened.
    • Feel free to add in veggies like diced peppers, mushrooms and zucchini.
  • Cheeses
    • A ricotta layer makes this recipe creamy. Add in your favorite herbs to this layer.
    • You can use cottage cheese in place of ricotta. Cottage cheese has a bit more liquid so you may like to drain it a little bit.
    • If you’re in a pinch, this recipe can be made without the ricotta layer.

Ingredients for spaghetti pie ready to prepare including pasta, cheeses and meat sauce in bowls

How to Make Spaghetti Pie

What I love best about this spaghetti pie recipe is that it’s a terrific make-in-advance dinner that can be ready at a moment’s notice. It will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days unbaked.

  1. Cook the spaghetti noodles al dente (they’ll cook a bit more in the oven) and toss with eggs and cheese. Press into a deep dish pie pan.
  2. Brown beef and stir in pasta sauce (or marinara sauce) and tomatoes. Simmer to thicken.
  3. Layer ricotta and meat sauce over spaghetti noodles. Top with cheese and bake.

A baked spaghetti pie in a white pie plate

Leftover Spaghetti Pie

Leftovers can be refrigerated about 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or oven until hot (time will vary based on portion sizes).

Leftovers can also be frozen in single portions for lunches. Defrost overnight in the fridge and microwave until heated through.

To Prepare Ahead of Time: Spaghetti pie is practically tailor made as make-in-advance meal for the freezer. Just prepare it as described here, but don’t bake. Instead, pop it in the freezer. When it’s frozen, take it out of the dish and transfer to a large, plastic baggie. Or, freeze it in a disposable foil pan to make clean up and gifting easier.

It can go straight from the freezer to the oven. Add an extra 30-45 minutes to the baking time. Cheesy and delicious, spaghetti pie is always welcome at the table!

A slice of spaghetti pie being served from a pie plate

More Spaghetti Favorites

Spaghetti Pie

This spaghetti pie recipe pulls together all of the best aspects of this Italian classic – pasta – cheese, meat sauce, and more cheese! 

  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese

Spaghetti Crust

  • 6 oz spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs

Cheese Layer

  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 tablespoon fresh)

Meat Sauce

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 small onion (diced)
  • 14 oz diced tomatoes (drained)
  • 2 cups pasta sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook spaghetti and drain. Toss with butter. Stir in eggs and parmesan cheese.
  3. Place spaghetti in a greased deep dish pie plate. Press to form a crust.
  4. Combine ricotta cheese, parsley and basil. Spread mixture over spaghetti.

  5. Brown beef and onion until no pink remains. Drain any fat. Add tomatoes and pasta sauce. Simmer 10 minutes or until thickened. Spread over ricotta cheese.
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes. Top with mozzarella and bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

REPIN this Easy Recipe

A slice of Spaghetti Pie on a small white plate

We love making this easy homemade spaghetti pie recipe for potlucks or weeknights. It's made in the oven with meat sauce, ricotta, and other delicious ingredients then baked to perfection! #spendwithpennies #spaghettipie #spaghetti #bakedspaghetti #spaghettipierecipe #italianspaghettipie #italian #pasta
We love making this easy homemade spaghetti pie recipe for potlucks or weeknights. It's made in the oven with meat sauce, ricotta, and other delicious ingredients then baked to perfection! #spendwithpennies #spaghettipie #spaghetti #bakedspaghetti #spaghettipierecipe #italianspaghettipie #italian #pasta

Oven Baked Ziti (with meat sauce & cheese)

Baked Ziti is an easy weeknight pasta dish! Tender ziti noodles, a zesty meat sauce and delicious creamy ricotta are layered in a casserole dish, topped with cheese and baked until bubbly.

Serve this easy pasta recipe with a loaf of crusty bread and an Easy Italian Salad for a meal everyone will love!

Baked Ziti with Ricotta Cheese on a plate

Our Favorite Baked Ziti Recipe

You don’t need to be Italian to serve this easy baked ziti! Nor do you need to have an authentic Italian grandmother because this is the best baked ziti recipe you’ll ever see!

What is Baked Ziti? Baked ziti with ricotta is a versatile twist on a standard lasagna. Instead of sheets of long lasagna noodles, we use ziti pasta but the layering the cheese and sauce is the same process. This pasta is round tubes about an inch long (penne is a good substitution if you can’t find ziti).

Baked ziti is versatile!

  • Meat Sauce: Sausage packs a ton of flavor in this recipe but of you can use ground beef (or turkey). If you swap out the sausage, you may want to add extra seasonings or spices.
  • Pasta: Since this is a baked ziti casserole, of course I use ziti as the base. If you don’t have ziti on hand you can use any medium shape in this recipe (or swap out rigatoni to make a baked rigatoni pasta). Be sure to cook it al dente (a little undercooked) as it will continue to cook as it bakes.
  • Cheese: Ricotta adds a creamy texture. You can swap it out by blending cottage cheese with an egg until smooth. Mozzarella is the perfect topper and I always garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese for great flavor.
  • Seasonings: Italian Seasoning contains all of the spices you’ll need in this recipe. Add more ‘heat’ by adding a dash of red pepper flakes…just a little spicy. Molto buono Italiano!

Ingredients prepared to make baked ziti with ricotta cheese and meat sauce.

How to Make Baked Ziti

  1. Brown the sausage and onion. Add in Italian seasoning, diced tomatoes and marinara sauce and simmer while you cook the pasta.
  2. In a small bowl, mix ricotta, parsley, mozzarella and parmesan.
  3. Layer sauce, ziti and the ricotta mixture in a casserole dish in order:
    • a little sauce on the bottom
    • half of the cooked ziti
    • all of the ricotta
    • remaining ziti and sauce
  4. Top with the remaining shredded mozzarella and bake minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

A casserole dish preparing baked ziti with ricotta cheese and meat sauce.

How Long to Cook Baked Ziti: Baked Ziti is basically cooked so the baking is to blend the flavors, heat everything through and of course melt the cheese. Cook it uncovered until the top looks bubbly and browned and you’ll be good to go!

  • Bake Ziti at
    • 350°F for 30-35 minutes
    • 375°F for 25-30 minutes
    • 400°F for 20-25 minutes

More Italian Favorites

You can make Baked Ziti Ahead of Time! Simply prepare as directed and refrigerate up to 24 hours. You may need to add an extra 5-10 minutes bake time if your recipe is chilly from the fridge.

To Reheat Baked Ziti use either the microwave or pop back in the oven on a low, slow heat. Reheating baked ziti doesn’t change the texture or the flavor, but adding an extra layer of shredded mozzarella to the top freshens it up just a bit!

A close up photo of baked ziti in a casserole dish topped with parmesan cheese and parsley.

Can You Freeze Baked Ziti?

Like most casseroles, baked ziti can be frozen successfully. If you are freezing the entire casserole in one piece, be sure to line the dish with aluminum foil before assembling and baking, then, once it is chilled, freeze in the pan and then remove the casserole and wrap in aluminum foil and plastic wrap, label and place in the fridge.

Or, portion into smaller pieces and put in freezer bags, label and freeze! Easy peasy lunch for school or work!

Baked Ziti

  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 28 oz pasta sauce (or marinara sauce)
  • 14 oz diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 16 oz ziti
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Brown ground sausage and onion breaking up until the sausage is fairly fine. Drain any fat.
  3. Add in Italian seasoning, water, tomatoes and pasta sauce. Simmer 10-15 minutes or until thickened.
  4. Meanwhile, boil ziti in salted water until al dente. Drain and rinse.
  5. In a small bowl,mix ricotta, parsley, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese.
  6. Add a thin layer (about 1 cup) of sauce to the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Layer half of the ziti in the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. Top with all of the ricotta and half of the sauce.
  7. Add remaining ziti, remaining sauce and top with cheese.
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Baked Ziti is an easy weeknight pasta dish! Tender ziti noodles, a zesty meat sauce and delicious creamy ricotta are layered in a casserole dish, topped with cheese and baked until bubbly. #spendwithpennies #bakedziti #bakedpasta #pastadinner #tomatopasta #easydinner #withcheese #zitinoodles #casserole
Baked Ziti is an easy weeknight pasta dish! Tender ziti noodles, a zesty meat sauce and delicious creamy ricotta are layered in a casserole dish, topped with cheese and baked until bubbly. #spendwithpennies #bakedziti #bakedpasta #pastadinner #tomatopasta #easydinner #withcheese #zitinoodles #casserole

Tomato Tortellini Soup (in about 15 minutes)

Tomato Tortellini Soup recipe only needs about 15 minutes to cook, making it a delicious, family friendly meal that saves both time and money! We love making homemade tomato soup on busy weeknights. Just create the tomato soup, add the tortellini, and top it with cheese and basil. It’s that easy!

Our weeknights are usually pretty busy so I’m always looking for meals that quick and easy. A comforting bowl of tortellini soup with a fresh salad is the perfect meal!

A bowl of tomato tortellini soup garnished with parmesan cheese and basil.

I have partnered with Progresso™ to bring you this easy belly warming recipe.

Tomato Tortellini Soup

Tomato soup is my daughter’s absolute favorite meal and I mean, what’s not to love?  It’s delicious and the perfect lunch or dinner…  and ready in just minutes! We love adding things like fresh croutons, a dash of cream, bacon, or of course, tortellini! It’s great served with grilled cheese roll ups or a fresh caesar salad.

Tortellini soup is super versatile add in your favorite proteins,  to create a sausage tortellini soup or chicken tortellini soup! Stir in handful of spinach before serving. Feel free to add whatever you have on hand – from peppers, to macaroni noodles, mushrooms, or onions!

A pot of tomato soup with tortellini and tomatoes

More Recipes You’ll Love

How To Make Tomato Tortellini Soup

To make this easy tortellini soup recipe:

  1. Combine all of the tomato soup ingredients in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil,  reduce heat, and simmer for 8 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the tortellini.
  3. Blend the soup mixture using a hand blender.
  4. Stir in the cream, and simmer for another 5 minutes adding tortellini in the last minute.

A bowl of homemade tomato tortellini soup

How To Store This Soup

The tortellini in this soup can get soggy if you have leftovers so we leave it on the side and always combine just before serving.

If you’d like to freeze this soup, add the cream once heated and defrosted (and freeze the tortellini separately). Serve this easy recipe with 30 Minute Dinner Rolls or crusty bread for dipping and a big fresh Easy Italian Salad.

Tomato Tortellini Soup

This Tomato Tortellini Soup takes just 15 minutes making it the perfect weeknight meal! Quick, easy and totally cheesy, my whole family loves this soup!

  • 2 cups fresh tortellini ((meat or cheese filled))
  • 1 cup fresh chopped spinach ((uncooked) optional)
  • Fresh Basil for garnish

Tomato Soup

  • 28 oz diced tomatoes (canned with juice)
  • 2 cups Progresso™ Chicken Broth
  • 2-3 teaspoons sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup heavy cream

OR

  • 2 cans Progresso™ Vegetable Classics Tomato Basil Soup
  1. Combine all soup ingredients in a saucepan except cream. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 8 minutes. 

  2. Meanwhile, cook tortellini according to package directions. Add chopped spinach to the boiling water 30 seconds before the tortellini is finished. Drain well.

  3. Blend soup mixture with a hand blender. Add in heavy cream and simmer an additional 5 minutes.

  4. Stir in tortellini and spinach if using.

  5. Place in serving bowls and top with fresh basil and parmesan cheese if desired.

Tomato tortellini soup is an easy 15 minute recipe that is perfect for busy weeknights. This easy creamy tomato soup recipe is made with canned tomatoes for a quick meal! #spendwithpennies #tortellini #tomatotortellinisoup #soup #tomatosoup #tortellinisoup
Tomato tortellini soup is an easy 15 minute recipe that is perfect for busy weeknights. This easy creamy tomato soup recipe is made with canned tomatoes for a quick meal! #spendwithpennies #tortellini #tomatotortellinisoup #soup #tomatosoup #tortellinisoup

Comforting, Quick Italian Wedding Soup!

Spoonful of italian wedding soup

Italian Wedding soup is a hearty, classic soup made on the stovetop! This recipe comes together quickly for the perfect weeknight meal! 

Add some 30 Minute Dinner Rolls or a big piece of crusty bread and a fresh salad to round out the meal!

Ladle of Italian Wedding soup overtop of a white pot

This time of year, soup is a go-to meal for us.  On a bone-chilling cold night, there’s nothing better than wrapping both hands around a warm, steaming bowl of soup!  Normally we go for a hearty minestrone or loaded potato soup, but lately I’ve been getting requests for a classic Italian Wedding soup.

For dessert, we love to add Tapioca Pudding or Creamy Rice Pudding, both also perfect to warm you up from the inside out.

Why is it Called Italian Wedding Soup?

Ever wonder how it gets its name? I always thought maybe it was a traditional meal served at Italian weddings, but in actuality, it has nothing to do with a real wedding.  The name actually comes from the way the flavors combine, like a happy marriage!

What Pasta is Used in Italian Wedding Soup?

Traditionally, acini di pepe pasta is used, which looks like little pearls.  If you can’t find that pasta, ditalini or orzo pasta could be used.

My local grocery store had the acini di pepe pasta right in the dried pasta aisle.

Overhead of white bowl filled with Italian wedding soup

How Do You Make Italian Wedding Soup?

Italian wedding soup is such a simple soup to make. The part that takes the most time is making the meatballs.  You can use any combination of ground meat you like.  My favorite combination is either pork and beef or all chicken.  I like to brown the meatballs in the soup pot, to add tons of extra flavor!

  1. Prep meatballs and brown.
  2. Soften onions, carrots & celery. Add herbs and seasonings.
  3. Stir in broth and pasta and cook until pasta is tender.
  4. Add spinach and serve.

Can You Use Frozen Meatballs?

Sure can! I like to make double the meatball recipe and freeze the other half, but when I don’t have any pre-made meatballs, I reach for my favorite bag of frozen meatballs!  Just make sure you’re using the small meatballs.

Closeup of apoonful of Italian wedding soup with a bowl of soup in the background

Can You Freeze Italian Wedding Soup?

Absolutely!  For the best results, I like to freeze the soup before adding the pasta.  Then when you’re reheating the soup, go ahead and add the pasta.

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Italian Wedding Soup

Hearty and classic, this easy stovetop Italian Wedding soup comes together quickly and is perfect for any weeknight meal!

Meatballs

  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

Soup

  • 1 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion (minced)
  • 2 large carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 2 stalks celery (diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 9 – 10 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup dried acini di pepe pasta
  • 5 ounces chopped baby spinach
  • shredded Parmesan cheese (for serving)
  1. Add all meatball ingredients except olive oil to a large mixing bowl.  Gently mix until fully combined.  Shape into small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter.

  2. Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in large dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add about half the meatballs and cook about 3 minutes per side, turning to brown all over.  Transfer to plate. Repeat with remaining meatballs.

  3. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil to the same dutch oven and reduce heat to medium low.  Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook 5 minutes, until softened.  Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, or until fragrant.  Season with salt, pepper, and dill.

  4. Add wine and deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

  5. Add pasta and meatballs to the pot and cook 8-10 minutes, until pasta is tender and meatballs are cooked through.  During the last minute of cooking, add spinach and let it wilt.

  6. Serve hot, sprinkled with shredded Parmesan cheese.

We just love with this hearty Italian Wedding Soup made easily on the stovetop! It's the perfect weeknight meal. #spendwithpennies #soup #easyrecipe #italianwedding #stovetop #easylunch #easydinner
We just love with this hearty Italian Wedding Soup made easily on the stovetop! It's the perfect weeknight meal. #spendwithpennies #soup #easyrecipe #italianwedding #stovetop #easylunch #easydinner

Chicken Parmesan Casserole – a perfect weeknight meal!

Chicken Parmesan Casserole takes all of the flavors we love in our favorite Chicken Parmesan recipe and turns them into a belly warming casserole!

Tender chunks of chicken and pasta in a rich tomato sauce. This chicken casserole is topped with mozzarella cheese and a garlic buttery topping for the perfect bite!

Add in a side salad and some crusty bread and you’ll have dinner on the table in a flash.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole is baked in a round casserole dish.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole starts with tender chunks of cooked chicken. I normally use either Oven Baked Chicken Breasts or leftover Roast Chicken. If you don’t have leftovers, you can also use rotisserie chicken or make a super quick Poached Chicken.

If you use rotisserie chicken, remember to put the leftover bones and bits in the freezer for another day to turn them into a savory chicken soup.

How to Make Chicken Parmesan Casserole

The great thing about baked chicken parmesan casserole is how easy it is to prepare on busy weeknights. I usually make it even easier on myself with leftover chicken.

To make chicken parmesan casserole into a filling meal the whole family will love:

  1. Boil the pasta al dente and drain (it will finish cooking in the oven)
  2. In the same pot, mix the pasta, shredded chicken, sauce and diced tomatoes, and place into a casserole dish.
  3. Top with shredded mozzarella.
  4. Spread the Panko topping over the cheese and bake until golden brown and bubbling.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole prepared and waiting to go into the oven.

Pasta for Chicken Parm Casserole

The pasta you use can be just about any shape you like – or with pasta you already have on hand, other than spaghetti. I recommend either penne or rotini here, either would be the perfect choice for casseroles. They’re dense and delightfully chewy. This means it holds up well to baking, freezing, or if you expect there to be leftovers.

Rotini is my personal favorite, and kids seem to like it too. Those little spirals catch and hold the sauce, making for a more tender and juicy dish. Be sure not to overcook them so they don’t fall apart and turn into mush if you plan on freezing of refrigerating and reheating leftovers.

Easy Casserole Topping

I always think a good topping gives any casserole dish extra pizazz but it’s especially important in this recipe. Since this recipe mimics the flavors in our favorite chicken parm recipe, the crumbs replicate that delicious crunch and breading we love so much. Panko, garlic, butter and parmesan add the perfect crisp topping.

Of course, you can substitute whatever breadcrumbs are in your cupboard. The fat in the melted butter will still make them bake up nice and crumbly but Panko does give the best crispy crunch.

A serving of Chicken Parmesan Casserole on a white dish

What to Serve with Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Baked Chicken Parmesan Casserole is a simple Italian inspired dish. And what goes better with basic Italian than crusty garlic bread, and a fresh green salad?

You can pop a foil-wrapped garlic loaf in the oven at the same time the casserole is cooking. For the salad, just whisk up a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. The acidity of the vinegar will make a welcome contrast to the buttery and cheesy richness of this casserole. Your family is going to love it!

A baking dish full of chicken parmesan casserole with a serving taken out of it.

How to Reheat Chicken Parmesan Casserole

If you have leftovers, you can refresh with a new topping layer and reheat in the oven. Freezing the leftovers is also an option. Either way, the flavors will still be awesome.

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Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Baked Chicken Parmesan Casserole has chicken, pasta, tomato sauce and a crisp panko crumb topping to make a delicious Italian inspired dish you will love!

  • 8 oz rotini (or penne)
  • 24 oz marinara sauce (or pasta sauce, divided)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups cooked chicken (shredded or diced)
  • 14.5 oz diced tomatoes (canned, well drained (optional))
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon parsley (fresh)

Topping

  • 2 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon parsley (fresh)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

  2. Mix all topping ingredients together. Set aside.

  3. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Toss with 2 cups pasta sauce, Italian seasoning, chicken, diced tomatoes and parsley. 

  4. Place in a 9×9 dish or 2QT casserole dish and top with mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle topping over cheese.

  5. Baked 23-25 minutes or until golden and bubbly and topping is browned.

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We just love this Chicken Parmesan Casserole! Tender chunks of chicken and pasta are covered in a rich tomato sauce, then topped with mozzarella cheese and a crispy panko topping! #spendwithpennies #chickenparmesan #casserole #chickencasserole #pastacasserole #easyrecipe #maincourse #weekdaymeal #chicken #pasta
We just love this Chicken Parmesan Casserole! Tender chunks of chicken and pasta are covered in a rich tomato sauce, then topped with mozzarella cheese and a crispy panko topping! #spendwithpennies #chickenparmesan #casserole #chickencasserole #pastacasserole #easyrecipe #maincourse #weekdaymeal #chicken #pasta

Lazy Lasagna in the Slow Cooker

Lazy Crock Pot Lasagna is a family favorite and so quick and easy to make! A delicious meat sauce layered with cheese and spinach filled ravioli and loads of gooey cheese and cooks up perfectly in the slow cooker. A meal that everyone will agree on. Did I mention how easy this lasagna is to make?

Lazy Crock Pot Lasagna With Cheese And Sauce On Plate

Easy Easy Easy

This Lazy Crock Pot Lasagna is a family favorite!  It seems we’re always off at some activity or event and some nights it seems like everyone is going through a revolving door.  This is perfect because it’s quick to make and we can have it ready for when we get home from soccer practice.

We love lasagna and although there are a lot of steps involved in making a lasagna from scratch, the results are always worth it!  This Lazy Crock Pot Lasagna uses a few shortcuts to make a lasagna dish that takes just about 15 minutes of prep and then cooks in the slow cooker but has the same great flavor.

Easy Lasagna in Slow Cooker (Crock Pot)

Saucy Lasagna In Your Slow Cooker

The key to making this taste amazing is to use a high quality pasta sauce, the better the sauce, the better the dish!

Cheese and spinach filled ravioli (or you can use just cheese ravioli) replace the traditional layers of pasta and ricotta cheese making it super simple to put together and no boiling required. Adding the cheese on top right at the beginning of the the cooking allows it to get that yummy crusty edge that I love!

This recipe makes a large batch and I would suggest a 6 quart slow cooker or larger.

Lazy Crock Pot Lasagna made with ravioli on a plate.

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Lazy Crock Pot Lasagna

Lazy Crock Pot Lasagna is a family favorite and so quick and easy to make!

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion (, diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (, minced)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 large jar ((45 oz) high quality pasta sauce)
  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1 large package ((25-30 oz) cheese & spinach filled ravioli (uncooked))
  1. Brown ground beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
  2. Stir in Italian seasoning and pasta sauce. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Spray the inside of a 6-7 qt crock pot with cooking spray. Layer sauce, ravioli and cheese.
  4. Repeat layers ending with cheese. Cover and cook on low 3-4 hours.

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Lazy Crock Pot Lasagna is a family favorite and so quick and easy to make! A delicious meat sauce is layered with cheese and spinach filled ravioli and loads of gooey cheese and cooks up perfectly in the slow cooker. This is one meal that everyone will agree on.

The BEST Chicken Lasagna Recipe

This chicken lasagna recipe is one of our favorite comfort foods. Tender chicken is layered with veggies, cheese, and lasagna noodles in a rich creamy alfredo inspired sauce. Serve it alongside a caesar salad and garlic bread for a comfort meal that’s perfect for any time of the year!

Having simple dinner recipes that I can make during the week and that reheat well to make a few meals is a complete game changer. Cue, this chicken alfredo lasagna recipe!

A slice of cheesy chicken lasagna on a white plate topped with fresh parsley.

Chicken Lasagna Alfredo

I love using leftover roast chicken for this recipe, but poached chicken, grilled chicken breasts, or even store bought rotisserie chicken work great in a pinch. If you have leftover frozen turkey, that is a great substitution too!

Making the sauce homemade alfredo style sauce adds so much flavor to this white lasagna recipe. It makes it so creamy, dreamy, and delicious!

Chicken lasagna being layered with chicken and veggies in a baking dish.

How To Make Chicken Lasagna

Lasagna has a few steps but this dish is worth every second! To make this chicken lasagna recipe:

  • Make the cheesy cream sauce
  • Combine cottage cheese, parsley, eggs, and spinach for the cheese layer
  • Layer noodles, sauce, cheese, vegetables, and chicken, end with a noodles and sauce layer
  • Bake for 40 minutes covered
  • Uncovered, top with cheese, and bake for an additional 20 minutes

When you layer lasagna, the trick is to keep things as even as possible throughout the dish to ensure even baking. The lasagna noodles should be cooked al dente as they’ll cook a little bit longer in the oven.

A slice of white chicken lasagna on a white plate ready to eat.

What Temp To Bake Lasagna

I bake this chicken lasagna at 350°F for about 60 minutes in total. Adding the cheese towards the end of baking ensure it doesn’t fall into the rest of the dish or overcook and crisps up nicely.

If you notice the cheese isn’t as browned and bubbly as you’d like, turn the oven to broil right before you remove the chicken lasagna from the oven.

Alternatively if the topping is done to your liking and you still have some cooking time left, cover the lasagna with foil to prevent further browning while it finishes off.

A cheesy white lasagna fresh from the oven in a casserole dish.

As with all Lasagna recipes, make sure you let this casserole sit at least 10-15 minutes before cutting. This gives it a chance to set up.

Serve this lasagna alongside a fresh kale salad for the perfect meal!

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Chicken Lasagna

A delicious chicken lasagna with a creamy cheese sauce is a family favorite!

  • 12 lasagna noodles (cooked and cooled)
  • 4 cups cooked chicken
  • 3 cups vegetables (cooked and cooled)
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach (defrosted and squeezed dry)
  • 2 cups cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 4 cups mozzarella (divided)
  • 2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese (divided)

Sauce

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon oregano

Sauce

  1. To make the sauce, melt butter, onion and garlic over medium low heat. Cook until onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.

  2. Reduce heat to low. Combine milk and broth. Add a small amount at a time whisking to thicken. The mixture will become very thick, continue adding a little bit of liquid at a time whisking until smooth.

    Once all of the liquid has been added, stir in cream cheese until melted.

  3. Remove from heat and add in 1/3 cup parmesan and 1 cup mozzarella cheese.

Assembly

  1. Combine cottage cheese, eggs, parsley and spinach. Set aside.

  2. In a 9×13 pan, layer 4 noodles, sauce, cooked vegetables and half of the chicken. Sprinkle with 1/2 mozza, 1/4 cup parmesan and 1/3 of the sauce.

  3. Add another layer of noodles, chicken, cottage cheese mixture, sauce.  Top with noodles and sauce. Cover and bake 40 minutes.

  4. Uncover, top with cheese and bake 20-30 minutes more.

For cooked vegetables I use steamed broccoli and carrots. Any combination of veggies works in this recipe, mushrooms, asparagus, bell peppers or zucchini are great choices.

 

The Best Mac & Cheese You’ve Ever Had!

Homemade Mac and Cheese

Homemade Mac and Cheese is a rich, creamy casserole that is truly a show stopper!

Not only is this creamy macaroni and cheese recipe easy to make it, has a special ingredient making it extra delicious!

This dish has so much velvety cheese in a quick homemade sauce that, once you try it, this is going to be the only baked macaroni & cheese dish you’ll ever need!

Scooping mac and cheese out of a white casserole dish

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Hello, my name is Holly and I am addicted to Macaroni and Cheese.  It is literally my favorite thing to eat on the whole planet! It doesn’t even have to be fancy, I love crock pot mac & cheese, stove top mac and cheese or even out of a little blue box.

Of all of the mac and cheese recipes, *this* little gem right here is like striking mac and cheese gold. It is definitely the best mac and cheese recipe ever and always gets rave reviews! Take it from me, I definitely should know!

How to Make Homemade Mac and Cheese

Making homemade macaroni and cheese (including this 5-star recipe) is surprisingly easy and quick!

This mac and cheese casserole starts with tender macaroni noodles that are slightly undercooked so they don’t get mushy when it’s baked.

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese on Plate next to serving dish

About This Mac and Cheese Sauce

The sauce for this easy homemade mac and cheese is a classic roux based cheese sauce.  Roux sounds very fancy but truthfully once you make a roux, you’ll realize how easy it is! It’s just butter and flour cooked and then milk added so don’t let it scare you away!

The results of creating a roux based sauce means your macaroni and cheese is going luscious and velvety smooth every single time. This allows the cheeses to melt in evenly and perfectly for this casserole.

To add to the creaminess of this dish, I combine a little bit of milk and a little bit of light cream (I use a cream that is about 10-12%MF or half and half).

Homemade mac and cheese in serving dish with scoop taken out

What Cheese Is Best For Mac and Cheese?

Now, this recipe has a special ingredient that is a little bit unconventional but makes it extra yummy…  AND it is optional.

The addition of cheddar soup makes the sauce a little bit extra velvety and just adds a little something.

Mac and cheese with Velveeta, I personally prefer to make it without!  The addition of the cheddar cheese soup to this recipe is something you definitely should try!  (You can find it at your local grocery store with the other condensed soups or online here).

If you don’t happen to have cheese soup on hand (or if you just don’t want to use it), this baked mac and cheese recipe is still ridiculously great without.

You might be wondering what cheese is best for mac and cheese, and it’s one with lots of flavor!

I generally use a sharp cheddar in this recipe as I love the flavor however you can certainly use your favorite cheeses in this recipe too. Sometimes I mix up the cheeses and use a bit of gruyere, or even pepperjack for a little kick. If you have bits of cheese leftover, you can combine them all together in this easy homemade mac and cheese sauce.

I would suggest buying a block of cheese and shredding it yourself as pre-shredded cheeses don’t melt the same way as they have additives to keep them from clumping/sticking.

Making Homemade Macaroni and Cheese is not difficult but below are a few simple tips to make sure it turns out absolutely perfectly every single time!

A serving spoon of gooey macaroni and cheese with on the table

Tips to Make Creamy Mac and Cheese

  • Cook your pasta al dente (firm) as the noodles cook extra in the sauce and you don’t want them mushy.
  • Don’t forget to salt your pasta water.
  • While not everyone agrees with rinsing the pasta after cooking, in this particular recipe it stops the noodles from cooking and the sauce is created with a texture that pairs perfectly with the rinsed noodles.
  • A sharper cheddar cheese will add a stronger cheese flavor.
  • Pre-shredded cheeses contain additives to keep it from sticking together which affects the way it melts.  The sauce is best if you shred your own cheeses.
  • Allowing the baked macaroni and cheese to rest for a few minutes after baking will thicken the sauce.
  • Most importantly of all… Do not over bake this recipe.

When cooking your macaroni noodles, cook them according to the package directions but you want them to be still firm.  If your package says 6-8 minutes, just cook them 6…  you get the idea. I choose not to top this baked macaroni casserole with a bread crumb mixture but if you really like bread crumbs on your macaroni and cheese, by all means, add some!

How to Make a Bread Crumb Topping for Mac & Cheese

Combine the following and sprinkle over your casserole before baking.

  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs (Panko Bread Crumbs are best)
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon parsley (optional)

This recipe makes an extra saucy creamy macaroni.  Do not over-bake this recipe.  You want it creamy and rich, over-baking will cause it to dry out.

I find that 20 minutes was perfect in my oven…  note that the recipe will thicken slightly while standing.

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Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole

This homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole is the best you’ve ever had. Tender noodles in a velvety sauce for the perfectly irresistible dish!!

  • 12 oz dry macaroni
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup light cream (about 10-12% MF)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 can condensed cream of cheddar soup (optional 10.75oz)
  • 4 cups sharp cheddar (divided)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and run under cold water.
  3. Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Whisk in flour and let cook 2 minutes while stirring. Slowly whisk in cream, milk, mustard powder and onion powder. Cook over medium heat while stirring until thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese & 3 cups cheddar cheese until melted. Add soup if using.
  5. Toss cheese sauce & macaroni noodles together. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. Top with remaining cheese.
  6. Bake 18-24 minutes or until bubbly. Do not over cook. Cool 10-15 minutes before serving.

Creamy Mac and Cheese Casserole

This Creamy Macaroni and Cheese Casserole is a show stopper! It's easy to make with tons of rich cheese sauce and a specail ingredient making it extra delicious!

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Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

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Instant Pot Mac and Cheese in a white bowl with fork