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No-Boil Pasta Marinara Bake (a.k.a. More Tales from the Kitchen-less Cook)

Try this No-Boil Pasta Marinara Bake, the latest in “Tales from The Kitchen-less Cook,” from food writer Deborah Brooks, who is trying to cook at home while her kitchen is being renovated. (photos from Deborah Brooks)


Surviving a kitchen remodel takes creativity and ingenuity when one wants to rely more on home cooked food than on takeout. It’s a daily challenge. The upshot is that I’m finding ways to prepare favorite foods using new cooking methods that I will continue to use once the remodel is complete.

Take this No-Boil Pasta Bake I’m sharing today. Genius! It’s literally a one-pot pasta meal that eliminates the multi-pot/colander cleanup I’m usually handing over to my hubby. Yes, I have a good deal going with me cooking and him cleaning, most nights. We adore pasta and eat it quite often; enjoying what seems like a simple meal until it’s time to do the dishes.

I’d heard of this cooking method many years ago from a friend who shared that her folks cooked lasagna this way. Raw noodles baked with the sauce and added water. Still having my wall ovens available to me, I decided to give it a try, keeping it simpler with tube-shaped pasta and jarred marinara sauce, as I don’t have a cook top to sauté garlic and onions and other ingredients. To add flavor, I used boxed vegetable stock in place of water. Cherry tomatoes added texture, moisture and a tangy pop of flavor, as did a few spoons of tomato paste. A splash of dry vermouth, my new favorite cooking wine, brought the flavors together. Topped with oodles of grated vegan parm and plenty of fresh chopped basil, as well as a good swirl of extra virgin olive oil before serving, this casserole turned out way better than expected. Cooking the pasta in the sauce allowed the flavors to permeate the noodles. Delicious! The only drawback was that it was challenging to cook perfectly al dente pasta. The noodles were a bit softer, but no less tasty. And knowing that the cleanup was going to be a breeze, it tasted that much better.

If you’re looking for a super easy school night meal to prepare, or think that you’re not a cook but want homemade food, this recipe is definitely for you. I know that I will be making this again during the remodel, and even once my kitchen is fully functioning, on busy nights when I want to keep it simple.

Please note the key to a successful no-boil pasta bake is a tight fitting lid. Most online recipes use a large casserole pan and cover tightly with a double layer of foil. I chose to use my Staub 4 qt. Dutch oven, as the lid is very tight fitting.

No Boil Pasta Marinara Bake
Extra virgin olive oil
1 24 oz. jar marinara sauce
1 32 oz box vegetable broth
Splash of dry vermouth, optional
1 16 oz. package tube-shaped pasta, such as Cavatappi, ziti or penne
2-3 T tomato paste
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2/3 cup grated vegan Parmesan
½ cup chopped fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with the rack in the middle of the oven.

Coat the pot or pan with a thin layer of EVOO to prevent sticking.

Pour jar of sauce into the pot.  Fill the jar with the vegetable broth and shake up to get the remaining sauce. Pour that and the remaining broth into the pot.  Add the tomato paste and vermouth. Stir up well until all is incorporated.  Add the pasta and tomatoes and stir up. The liquid should cover the pasta. Cover tightly. Bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring up halfway through, until pasta is very al dente and most of the sauce absorbed.

Add half of the parm and basil and stir up. Cook another 10-15 minutes, uncovered, until pasta is to your liking, stirring up once or twice for even cooking. All ovens are different, so you many have to adjust timing.

Remove from the oven. Let rest 5 minutes.

Top with a good swirl of EVOO and the rest of the parm and basil.

Serve right from the pan. Enjoy!


Ingredients for No Boil Pasta Marinara Bake (photo from Deborah Brooks)


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Deborah Brooks
Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.

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