No-Boil Ricotta and Broccoli Pasta Bake
Serves: 4 to 6
I have a lot of quirks when it comes to cooking. I don’t eat celery or honey. I don’t like touching raw meat. And I very strongly dislike cooking something in order to cook something else—roasting beets to make a beet salad, or boiling potatoes for shepherd’s pie, or, in many cases, cooking pasta to throw together a casserole. If you can make lasagna with uncooked noodles, like in my Easy Weeknight Vegetarian Lasagna (page 80), then shouldn’t you be able to make a pasta bake with dry pasta? As it turns out, you can! This pasta bake is easy to make and requires almost no hands-on cooking, making it ideal for a weeknight meal. It tastes almost like a white lasagna with all the ricotta. Feel free to add extra vegetables to the dish—frozen peas and carrots will work wonderfully in this recipe.
  • 1 small head broccoli (about 3 cups [270 g] florets)
  • 1 mozzarella ball (9 oz [260 g]), not fresh
  • ½ lb (227 g) dry fusilli pasta (about 2½ cups)
  • 1 tub (10.5 oz [300 g]) smooth ricotta
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1½ cups (355 ml) 2% milk
  • ½ cup (120 ml) half-and-half cream (10%)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Separate the broccoli into florets. Cut bigger florets in half. I like separating the stalks and chopping them into smaller pieces. Grate the mozzarella cheese ball and divide in half. In a 2.5-quart (2.4-L) Dutch oven, combine the dry (uncooked) fusilli noodles, broccoli florets and stems, half of the shredded cheese and the tub of ricotta. Add all the seasonings and mix with a spoon.
  2. Pour the milk and cream over the noodle-broccoli mixture and, using a spoon, press the dry pasta to the bottom of the Dutch oven pot, making sure that all the noodles are submerged in milk. Cover the pot with a lid and place in the oven for 50 minutes.
  3. After 50 minutes of baking, take the pot out of the oven and mix the pasta well. Test the pasta for doneness. If it’s still not fully cooked, return to the oven for another 5 minutes or until it’s cooked. If the pasta is cooked, sprinkle evenly with the remaining shredded cheese, and return to the oven to melt the cheese. I like turning the broiler on at this point to get the cheese a little bit golden, but make sure to watch the stove as the cheese could go from perfectly bubbly to burnt within a few minutes.
I have also made this in a ceramic, lidded pot, but I much prefer using a Dutch oven, as the texture of the dish is much better. Also, ceramic pots usually cannot be used with a broiler. If you don’t have a 2.5-quart (2.4-L) Dutch oven, use an equivalent-size ovenproof pot or roasting pan and cover tightly with foil. You may need to adjust the cooking time to accommodate a different size pan.
Recipe by Food Bloggers of Canada at