Cozy Baked Pastas for Cold Weather

The best way to beat the winter chill is with comforting pasta dishes straight from the oven.

Nothing transports me back to my parents' kitchen like the smell of garlic sauteing in good olive oil. I can close my eyes and envision the stainless steel pots on the gas stovetop, water bubbling and ready for pasta, the pitch-black darkness outside their kitchen windows in the evening — nothing but mountains surrounding their old farmhouse.

That's the definition of pure comfort in my book. You need little more during these cold winter nights than a warm and comforting meal to share, and the most family-friendly meals in our house always include pasta.

The marinara sauce for this 5-Star Manicotti (pictured above) comes together easily and requires ingredients you most likely have on hand: olive oil, onion, garlic, tomatoes and herbs. Make the irresistible filling with a trio of cheeses and spinach, then top with more cheese and bake for a quick half-hour.

Giada De Laurentiis' Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina is a simple and kid-friendly dish that's easily customizable, so use whatever small pasta your little one prefers (or whatever you have in your pantry!). It's also a perfect dish to make ahead and reheat when everyone's ready.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Another time-tested classic is Baked Ziti. Ree Drummond's meaty and cheesy recipe feeds a dozen, so make it when you're headed to a potluck — or when you simply want to cook once and eat twice. No one will be disappointed if there are leftovers to enjoy another night, we promise.

Your comforting pasta night needn't always depend on meat and red sauce, though. Ina Garten's 5-star Portobello Mushroom Lasagna starts with a thick and buttery white sauce, and it's layered with hearty mushrooms, lasagna noodles and fresh Parmesan. You'll never miss the meat!



There's one simple reason mac and cheese has an open invitation to every potluck, cookout, tailgate and holiday dinner you can think of: It's the ultimate comfort food. Tyler Florence's crowd-pleasing dish calls for all the pasta and Cheddar you love, as well as bacon. (And isn't everything better with bacon?) Bake the cheesy, coated macaroni until hot and bubbly, then top with crispy sauteed bacon for extra flavor in every spoonful.

Next Up

How to Make Fresh Pasta: A Step-by-Step Guide

Our basics demystify the process so you can make fresh pasta yourself.

Why You Should Save Pasta Water

The secret to the sauce.

A Complete Checklist of Pantry, Refrigerator and Freezer Essentials

Having a well-stocked pantry and fridge is like money in the bank. Here are the items to keep on hand in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer so you can prepare flavorful, complete meals at any time.

Three for the Money Shopping List

Here's what you'll need to make the recipes from this episode of Rachael Ray's 3 in the Bag.

Make Homemade Pasta with a Paper Shredder

Learn how to make homemade pasta using a paper shredder.

How to Make Pasta

A step-by-step guide with photos.

Triple Play Shopping List

Here's what you'll need to make the recipes from this episode of Rachael Ray's 3 in the Bag.

This Is the Pasta Kristen Bell Is Obsessed With

She likes it so much, she wrote the company a love letter.

Canned Tomato Guide

Learn about the different varieties of canned tomatoes.