Baked Penne

When I first introduced this dish to our family, I made the cheese-filled version to increase the likelihood of a new food being accepted by my Wisconsin born and raised kids. Now that it’s become a family staple, I substitute dairy-free savory cashew cream for some or all of the cheese and it’s still a hit. The shredded zucchini and carrots “disappear” into the dish, so it is a great way to up vegetable intake without much effort.



  • 1 lb whole grain penne pasta
  • 1 25-oz jar pre-made marinara or tomato sauce (look for a brand with no added sugar, low sodium and no artificial ingredients, or use homemade sauce)
  • 8 oz Havarti cheese, grated or cubed OR for a dairy free option use 1 cup savory cashew cream sauce, divided (recipe here)
  • ⅓ cup sliced kalamata olives
  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • ¼ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese (omit for a dairy free option)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a large pot, boil water and prepare pasta according to package directions until al dente.
  3. Drain pasta and return to pan.
  4. Pour tomato sauce over pasta and stir to coat.
  5. Heat pasta mixture on low while stirring in Havarti OR 2/3 cup cashew cream, olives, shredded zucchini and shredded carrots.
  6. Stir until ingredients well combined. Remove from heat and pour pasta mixture into 9 x 13 baking dish.
  7. Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese if desired and bake until warmed through and bubbly, about 30 minutes. (To shorten baking time, may be started in microwave oven then lightly browned in conventional oven).
  8. For dairy free option, after removing from oven drizzle with remaining 1/3 cup cashew cream sauce.
  9. Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve.
Plant-Based Mains

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