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Baked Penne with Mushrooms and Mozzarella

February 11, 2011

By Kath Dedon


Baked Penne with Mushrooms and Mozzarella is a tasty and easy vegetarian meal adapted from a Mark Bittman recipe in How to Cook Everything. If you have the book, it’s his Baked Ziti recipe. I substituted penne, and used less mozzarella than the pound that he called for. If you like the flavors of lasagna, you’ll enjoy this simple recipe.

Bittman advises to undercook the pasta because it will finish cooking in the sauce. My box of penne suggested 11 minutes for the cooking time. I cooked it for 8 minutes and in the finished dish the pasta was perfectly cooked.

Serve with a salad and bread for a satisfying one-dish dinner!

Update January 29, 2023: I recently made this using the full pound of mozzarella that Mark Bittman recommends. Delicious!


Baked Penne with Mushrooms and Mozzarella

(Adapted from the Baked Ziti recipe in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything)


(print the recipe)


Serves 8 (leftovers freeze well for future meals)


1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound mushrooms, sliced (any kind, I used regular white mushrooms)

1 large onion, diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Freshly ground black pepper

1 (28-oz) can plum tomatoes with the juice, chopped (I cut them up right in the can with kitchen shears, and then cut up any pieces that were still too large after I put them in the pan.)

1 pound penne or ziti

¾ – 1 pound mozzarella, preferably fresh, grated or chopped (I used small mozzarella balls cut in half)

About ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan


1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms


cutting fresh mozzarella balls in half


1. Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in boiling water

2. Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil for the penne.

3. Preheat the oven to 400˚.

4. Grease, or oil a large baking pan (9 x 13 is a good size)

5. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the sliced mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the water they release begins to evaporate (about 5 minutes).



6. Stir in the onion and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened (about 5 minutes).


7. Remove the porcini from the water with a slotted spoon (so you leave the grit behind on the bottom). Chop into smaller pieces, if they are large, and add to the pan. (You can carefully pour the mushroom broth from the porcini into a container, leaving the grit at the bottom. You’ll have a flavorful mushroom broth to freeze for later use.)

8. Add the chopped tomatoes and their juice to the pan. Stir and simmer gently while you cook the pasta.

9. Cook the pasta, but undercook it. (I cooked my 11-minute penne for 8 minutes.)

10. Add the pasta and about 2/3 of the mozzarella to the pan. Stir well and then transfer to the prepared baking pan.

11. Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan.

ready for the oven


12. Bake until it’s a bit browned and the cheese is bubbly, about 20 – 30 minutes.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2011 4:25 pm

    The final result looks very tasty. I haven’t made any baked pasta dishes as of yet but this definitely looks like a good and easy one. I love that it can be frozen for future meals.

  2. February 12, 2011 5:07 am

    Your dish looks so good, even at 7 Am. I made the same thing, minus the mushrooms ,for Super bow, but didn’t get a picture. You’re right, Baked Pasta is pure comfort food. Have a great weekend.

  3. February 12, 2011 8:01 am

    Mmm mmm.. The penne looks so yummy! We can hardly find fresh mozzarella like those, here in Malaysia. The sight of it makes my mouth water! 😛

  4. February 12, 2011 9:48 am

    Oh that’s the best comfort food! Wow, it looks so good…. where’s my fork?! 🙂

  5. February 12, 2011 11:15 am

    I rarely bake pasta unless I’m making lasagna, which is odd because it’s so perfectly delicious. This baked penne looks ideal. I could go with mozzarella and mushrooms any day! I hope you are having a good weekend my friend!

  6. February 12, 2011 11:32 am

    OOoo this looks delicious! I love veggie comfort foods like this!

  7. February 12, 2011 11:56 am

    I love making baked pasta and this one sounds like a winner. That last picture has my mouth watering, especially the crispy ends of the penne that are poking out.

  8. February 13, 2011 7:48 am

    A lovely, simple dish. The use of porcini to give the button mushrooms some extra oomph is a great ‘trick’.

  9. February 13, 2011 7:53 am

    This looks delicious and it is perfect for feeding a crowd. I know my grandsons would love this. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

  10. February 13, 2011 8:45 am

    It’s weied because some named “Greg” left a message that could have been mine. And my name is GREG too. You see I loved the crisp parts poking out above the cheese too! GREG

  11. February 13, 2011 9:34 pm

    I love Mark, mushrooms and mozzarella. Three cheers for the letter M! This looks like such an easy and satisfying meal. Thank you for sharing! I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow. Take time to love yourself and those that are dearest to your heart!

    • February 16, 2011 6:57 am

      Mark, mushrooms, mozzarella, and Monet! Indeed, three cheers for the letter M! 🙂

  12. February 15, 2011 6:47 pm

    What an incredible looking dish ~ Mushrooms and mozzarella, how can you go wrong?

  13. February 15, 2011 7:42 pm

    Oh wow, that looks amazingly yummy. I love anything with bubbly cheese!! Also, I just picked up a box of penne pasta this week, I may have to give this a try!

  14. February 17, 2011 3:58 pm

    Hi, Kath. I should consult that cookbook more often, but I like how you lightened the recipe with less cheese – not to mention, penne, which I always have but rarely ziti. It looks like a good prepare-in-advance dish, too.



  15. February 27, 2011 3:51 am

    I love porcini mushrooms, I like to prepare with soya sauce.

  16. Avelana permalink
    February 21, 2012 1:24 am

    Made it last night and it was as delicious as it looks. I didn’t have any mozzarella but used Philadelphia cream cheese instead. Also used some of my home frozen cherry tomatoes instead of the tinned ones – they added a great sharpness to the flavour.

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