For Faster Browned And Bubbly Baked Pasta, Crank Up The Oven

The allure of a baked pasta dish like classic baked ziti lies in the combination of soft, warm noodles and sauce with a layer of golden brown, melty cheese. Besides just being satisfying to look at and taste, cheese plays a vital role in baked pasta dishes in that it helps to seal in the sauce. Some recipes can take up to an hour in the oven to achieve ideal results, but there's a way to get that blanket of perfect gooeyness on top without all the wait.

It turns out you don't actually need to let your baked pasta dish cook for that long, since all you're doing with the oven is letting the cheese melt and the flavors meld together. To shave off baking time, crank up the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and let your dish sit in there for just 10 minutes. You'll still get the browned, cheesy top layer you're looking for, and you won't have to worry about the dish burning or drying out after spending an hour in the oven.

How to quickly get melty baked pasta

In order to get a fully baked pasta dish using this quick method, it's important to make sure any raw ingredients are pre-cooked ahead of time. You may see recipes for no boil pasta bakes out there, but since they toss hard noodles into the dish, they need to sit for much longer in the oven. To get quick melted cheese, however, boil your noodles on the stovetop first, stopping when they're al dente so that they won't get soggy in the oven. If you're including any meat, like ground beef or sausage, make sure that's also fully cooked on the stove before you throw it in the casserole dish.

It's also important to make your sauce ahead of time, since the flavors won't have enough time to properly develop in the oven. This can be as simple as thinning out a jarred sauce with a little starchy pasta water and mixing it with your choice of cheeses, or making something from scratch. If you're adding veggies into the mix, make sure they're the texture you want ahead of time, which could mean sautéing or boiling them. Since you're prepping the ingredients early on, all you'll need to do before sitting down to eat is assemble everything in a baking dish, add more cheese, and pop it in the oven at a very high temp which will give you perfectly browned cheese on top while keeping the inside moist and gooey.