It might not be a difficult dish to make, but pasta bake will surely win the hearts and stomachs of every dinner guest. But if you end up with leftovers, can you preserve them for another day?
The answer is yes. When stored in the fridge, pasta bake leftovers will be edible for the next 4 to 5 days at most. But if you don’t feel like eating pasta bake again this week, you can prolong its shelf life by freezing the dish (see also How To Freeze Cooked Pasta). This way, it will stay fresh for another 2 months. Sure, you can probably eat it after 3 or 4 months, but it won’t be as good.
Here’s the thing with pasta, most types, including ziti pasta: if not prepared, packed or even thawed properly, it can change in texture. Whether it’s mushy or of a gummy consistency, we can all agree that’s not tasty. But luckily, you can prevent that from happening. In the next section, we’ll go over the whole procedure, step by step.
How To Freeze Pasta Bake
If you’re sure you’ll have leftovers, it’s best to cook the pasta al dente. This means it should be slightly undercooked and firm to the bite. Once you thaw pasta bake leftovers, you’ll have to reheat the dish. By the time it reaches the desired temperature, the pasta will be cooked in just the right amount. If you’re mostly eating by yourself, you should freeze pasta bake (see also Freezing Stuffed Shells) in single servings.
In case you’re making this dish from scratch, freezing ingredients separately can help keep their integrities. That way the sauce (see also Freezing Vodka Sauce) won’t turn pasta into a soggy, gooey substance. Then, when you’re craving a good old pasta bake, you can combine the two ingredients after they’re thawed (see also Can You Freeze Tuna Pasta Bake?).
If that can’t be done, you can always freeze leftovers the regular way. Releasable freezer bags are ideal for storing single servings of this dish. Scoop the desired amount of pasta bake into the bag, then squeeze all the air out. Try to be gentle at the same time, so that you don’t squish the dish and mess up the texture. Once all the air is out, seal the bag and write the storage date on it. Then, put it in the freezer until you feel like eating pasta bake again.
Keep in mind that cheese doesn’t freeze well. So in case you’ve already planned on freezing leftovers, consider making it without the cheese, as it might become rubbery. If you do end up adding cheese, there’s a neat little trick you can do when reheating thawed pasta bake. By adding another layer of cheese on top of the dish, you can mask the rubbery texture and enhance the flavor.
If you’re left with a large batch of leftovers but you’re short on releasable bags, there’s another way you can freeze the dish in single servings. Grab a muffin pan and coat it with grease. Then, fill the cups with pasta bake, and put the pan into the freezer for a couple of hours.
After 3 to 4 hours the dish should be completely frozen. Grab a butter knife and pop each serving out of the pan. When you’re done, put all the servings into a single releasable freezer bag. Then, squeeze all the air out and seal it. Write the content and the storage date and put the bag in the freezer.
How To Thaw And Reheat Pasta Bake The Right Way
If you’re craving pasta bake, it’s time to take one serving out of the freezer. The best way to defrost it is to put it in the fridge, where it will slowly thaw overnight. You should leave pasta bake in the bag as it thaws, to prevent air from reaching it.
Waiting for a dish to thaw can be frustrating. If you’re tempted to leave it to defrost at room temperature, I’ve got bad news for you. When you leave food that can go bad to thaw on counters, you’re creating an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. For that reason, you should only defrost pasta dishes in safe, cool temperatures.
Once it thaws completely, you can reheat pasta bake. You can do that by using either an oven or a microwave. If you decide on using an oven, you should heat it up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, bake the dish for about 20 minutes or so. You can spice up the recipe by sprinkling a bit of Parmigiano cheese over it 5 minutes prior to finishing. Using a microwave is a faster method. You should heat the dish at 2-minute intervals, until it reaches the desired temperature.
When frozen properly, pasta bake (see also How To Freeze Lasagna) doesn’t lose its texture or flavor after thawing. This makes it an ideal dish to fill up your freezer with.