Ready in 45 minutes, this easy baked cheese tortellini casserole is packed with oven-roasted vegetables and is cheesy weeknight perfection!
I don't know about you but as much as I love a nice lasagna, it's pretty rare that I can find the time for the painstaking process of assembling one.
Which is a major disappointment to certain members of my family.
Thankfully I now have this cheesy weeknight casserole in my back pocket for whenever the complaining starts up again. It checks all the baked carb-y cheesy tomato-y craving boxes of a traditional lasagna, but it's ready in 45 minutes instead of 2 hours!
This easy baked tortellini also happens to be a vegetarian dish that is actually packed with vegetables, not just cheese! (Although it is definitely packed with cheese ;)).
But that said, if you're not looking for a meatless dish and want to add a protein, I have some suggestions below!
Ingredients and substitutions
Here's what I like to put in this pasta casserole:
I like to use cheese tortellini in this pasta bake, to keep it meatless, but any tortellini flavor will work of course! Choosing a meat-filled pasta would be an easy way to add some protein to this dish.
Don't feel restricted to tortellini either! Ravioli works great, as does any kind of short pasta, like penne, rigatoni, elbow macaroni, etc.
My faves for this pasta casserole are the classic veggie pizza toppings of peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and onion.
But you have a ton of options here, and this dish is a great way to clean out the fridge. Even if your veggies have seen crisper days, the oven will bring them back to sweet, tender glory.
Eggplant, carrot, broccoli, or squash of any kind make great substitutes for any of these vegetables.
Again, marinara or tomato sauce (what's the difference?) are my choices for keeping this dish vegetarian, but any tomato based sauce will be delicious.
To keep it simple, I usually use a store bought sauce, but homemade is even better.
Using a meat sauce instead is another easy way to add some protein to this pasta dish.
There's no denying that mozzarella is the king of baked pasta casserole cheeses, but you have plenty of options here too.
Other fine melting cheeses include fontina, provolone, or gouda. I'm not a huge fan of cheddar with tomato sauce personally, but it could work too.
Meat and Protein
If you want to add some meat to this baked tortellini you have many options! As mentioned above, you can choose a meat-filled pasta instead of the cheese tortellini, or use a meat sauce instead of marinara.
You can also toss some cooked meat into the mixture before baking. This would be really delicious with cooked Italian sausage! Cooked ground beef or chicken would be nice too.
If you want to add protein without meat, you can add some canned beans. You can even substitute all or part of the pasta with large beans, such as gigante beans, if you like!
Baked Tortellini Step-by-Step
- Preheat your oven to 450F and chop your vegetables.
2. Toss the vegetables with olive oil, Italian seasoning, and salt on a large baking sheet, spread evenly, and roast in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until tender. Reduce the oven temperature to 400F when you remove the vegetables.
3. While the vegetables are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the tortellini according to the package directions. Drain and return to the pot.
4. To the pot with the tortellini, add the roasted vegetables, marinara and one cup of mozzarella. Stir to combine.
5. Pour the mixture into a 2-quart baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and the Parmesan.
6. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.
Make Ahead Tips
Store in the fridge
This tortellini casserole is easily prepped ahead. Just assemble the whole thing, cover it well, and store it in the fridge until ready to bake - up to 24 hours ahead of time.
It will probably need a few extra minutes in the oven if it's coming out of the fridge.
Store in the freezer
You can also assemble and freeze this casserole for up to 3 months. It's best to freeze BEFORE baking for the best texture. Be sure to use a pan that is both freezer and oven safe.
To freeze, wrap the whole thing, pan and all, with plastic wrap, and then aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn.
To bake from frozen, remove the plastic wrap and cover with foil. Bake at 375 F for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until hot throughout. Remove the foil 10-15 minutes before the end to brown the top.
What to serve with this baked tortellini?
My favorite sides for baked pasta casseroles like this are a simple tossed green salad with an acidic vinaigrette like this fall salad with maple dressing, or a pear and roquette salad.
Garlic bread is also great. If you can't get enough cheese, try this family favorite cheesy garlic bread!
More Easy Weeknight Pasta Dishes
Pasta with Fresh Tomato Cream Sauce
Easy Sausage and Vegetable Pasta Skillet
Cajun Shrimp Pasta - Lightened up!
- 1 12 ounce package fresh or frozen cheese tortellini or another flavour if you prefer
- 1 red pepper chopped
- 1 yellow pepper chopped
- 1 zucchini halved lengthwise and sliced
- ½ red onion chopped
- 4 ounces mushrooms quartered
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups marinara sauce homemade or store bought
- 2 cups grated mozzarella divided
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 450 F. Toss the vegetables with the olive oil, Italian seasoning, and salt, and spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes or until tender. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 F.
- While the vegetables are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions, minus 1 minute. Drain, and transfer the tortellini back to the pot and set aside.
- To the tortellini, add the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, and 1 cup mozzarella and toss to combine.
- Pour the tortellini mixture into a 2 quart baking dish and sprinkle with second cup of mozzarella and the Parmesan.
- Bake uncovered in the preheated oven (400 F) 20 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned and the casserole is bubbly.
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