Photograph of Creamy Tomato Pasta Bake with Broccoli, Cauliflower, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes
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Creamy Tomato Pasta Bake with Broccoli, Cauliflower, Spinach and Semi-dried Tomatoes

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This delicious cheesy, tomatoey vegetarian Pasta Bake is another recipe which came together during our COVID isolation. Initially food was difficult to get hold of and we made huge efforts not to waste a crumb. There are many lessons we, as an international community, will take away from the trauma of COVID 19 and I hope that one of them will be a huge reduction in food waste. I hope our desire to be more inventive with leftover food has been ignited and as a result, we throw away as little food as possible.

I recently posted my Pasta Bake – Core Recipe as well as my Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Bake with Roast Red Pepper and Spinach recipe. I was looking for a tomatoey cheesy pasta Bake Recipe to share. Although I have other tried and tested recipes, I wanted to use up some food coming to the end of its natural life! A scout into the depths of my fridge and I came across half a head of cauliflower, half a head of broccoli, the end of a bag of spinach, a little old for salads but fine for cooking, and an opened jar of semi-dried tomatoes which Emma had brought home from university. Voila! All needed using up and what a wonderful combination they turned out to be. It was a really delicious dish, wonderfully comforting and made more so because I had been able to use up good ingredients and come up with a tasty, nutritious and balanced meal which I will definitely bake again.

As a complete aside, if you look closely at the spoon in the picture at the top this page, you can see a reflection of my daughter waiting for me to take photographs, before she can tuck into supper! Luckily Pasta Bakes keep their heat very well, although I think a few slices of garlic bread may have disappeared!

How to make Creamy Tomato Pasta Bake with Broccoli, Cauliflower, Spinach and Semi-dried Tomatoes

This dish is very easy to make with just two pans to wash. Wonderful make ahead dish for just a few people or a crowd. There are just a few simple steps:

Collect all your ingredients together:


  • dried farfalle or you could use: macaroni, penne, fusilli, rigatoni, orecchiette, ziti
  • fine salt

Add-ins – to be cooked before adding:

  • cauliflower, in small florets
  • broccoli, in small florets
  • fine salt

For a creamy tomato cheesy sauce:

  • unsalted butter
  • onion, peeled and chopped
  • cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • plain/all-purpose flour
  • passata
  • milk
  • grated mature cheddar cheese
  • grated fresh mozzarella cheese
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • sugar
  • fine salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Add-ins – do not need to be cooked before adding:

  • fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • semi-dried tomatoes, chopped (or sun-dried tomatoes)

Cook the pasta, cauliflower and broccoli:

Make the tomatoey cheesy sauce:

Add the spinach, semi-dried tomatoes, pasta, cauliflower and broccoli. Cover and cook in the oven:

Remove the cover, scatter over the remaining cheese and finish cooking:

For more detailed guidance on making pasta bakes, please see my Pasta Bake – Core Recipe here.


Made this recipe?

If you make this recipe, do please tag me on instagram @daffodilkitchen. You could also leave a comment in the box directly below the recipe.

Creamy Tomato Pasta Bake with Broccoli, Cauliflower, Spinach and Semi-dried Tomatoes

A wonderfully delicious and comforting pasta dish with layers of flavour from different types of cheese and tomatoes, as well as cauliflower, spinach and broccoli bound together with a creamy sauce. 

Course Lunch, Main Course, Supper
Cuisine European
Keyword Baked, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cheese, Pasta, semi-dried tomatoes, spinach
Servings 4
Author Susan



  • 200g dried farfalle or you could use: macaroni, penne, fusilli, rigatoni, orecchiette, ziti
  • 1½ teaspoons fine salt

Add-ins – to be cooked before adding:

  • 80g cauliflower, in small florets
  • 80g broccoli, in small florets
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

For a creamy tomato cheesy sauce:

  • 40g unsalted butter

  • 125g/I onion, peeled and chopped
  • 16g/4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 40g plain/all-purpose flour
  • 400ml passata
  • 300ml milk
  • 100g grated mature cheddar cheese
  • 100g grated fresh mozzarella cheese

  • 25g grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ plus ⅛ teaspoon sugar
  • ⅛ – ¼ teaspoon fine salt (I used ¼ teaspoon)
  • ⅛ – ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Add-ins – do not need to be cooked before adding:

  • 70g fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 50g semi-dried tomatoes, chopped (or sun-dried tomatoes)

Serving options:

  • ¼ of the grated cheese from above
  • Shredded basil leaves or chopped parsley
  • Crisp green or mixed salad or rocketb leaves
  • Salad dressing e.g. balsamic
  • Garlic bread
  • Grated parmesan cheese


  1. Collect together your equipment (see Recipe Notes below) and ingredients.

  2. Preheat oven to Fan Oven 180°C/200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

  3. Cook the pasta, cauliflower and broccoli: cook the pasta in a large saucepan in plenty of boiling salted water for 2 minutes less than recommended on the packet, usually around 8 – 12 minutes. When the pasta is al dente, drain and set aside.

  4. Using the same saucepan, cover the cauliflower florets with boiling water and add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to the boil and as soon as it is bubbling away, add the broccoli. Bring back to the boil and immediately drain. Set on one side.

  5. Make the sauce: in a medium saucepan melt the butter, add the onion and cook for 3 – 4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute until aromatic. 

  6. Add the flour and cook for a couple of minutes stirring continuously with a wooden spoon.

  7. Mix the milk and passata and add all at once to the butter, onion, garlic and flour and mix vigorously with a balloon whisk until evenly incorporated and there are no lumps. Bring to the boil, reduce the temperature and simmer gently for 3 – 4 minutes, stirring continuously, either with a wooden spoon or the balloon whisk.

  8. Add the sugar, freshly ground black pepper and ⅛ teaspoon salt and stir to mix.

  9. Mix the cheeses together and remove ¼. Set aside for scattering on top of the pasta bake. Stir the remaining ¾ of the cheese into the sauce and mix well. Taste to see if it needs extra sugar, salt and/or pepper. 

  10. Mix everything together: chop the spinach and semi-dried tomatoes and stir into the sauce. As soon as the spinach has wilted, add the pasta, cauliflower and broccoli.

  11. Tip the pasta and sauce into a buttered ovenproof dish, level the surface and cover with foil.

  12. To cook: bake in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes or until hot and bubbling.

  13. Take out of the oven, remove the foil and sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Put back in the oven, uncovered, for a final 10 – 15 minutes. It is cooked when the cheese has melted and lightly browned and the bake is piping hot throughout.

  14. Take out of the oven and sprinkle with shredded basil or chopped parsley. Serve with your choice of serving options.

Recipe Notes


  • kitchen scales and measuring spoons
  • chopping board and knife
  • medium saucepan x 2
  • cheese grater
  • sieve or colander
  • buttered ovenproof dish


This recipe uses 225g cheese. You can vary the combination suggested here. E.g. If you prefer you can use just cheddar cheese or a mix of cheddar and mozzarella or mozzarella and parmesan. Alternatively you could use some gruyere cheese or Red Leicester. Any cheese that melts well.


This really depends on how hungry you are! I find the quantity here is more than sufficient for 4 of us with a salad and garlic bread. However if you have big appetites or are feeding teenage boys you may wish to increase by 50% or even double the quantities. Any left overs warm up really well in  the microwave the following day. 

Cooking times:

The length of time your Pasta Bake will take to cook will depend on:

  • the dish you have used, which in turn will affect the depth of the Pasta Bake
  • your oven, and
  • how cold the Bake is before going into the oven.

Before adding the cheese, check the centre of the Bake. Sometimes the edges are bubbling and very hot whilst the centre can still be only a little warm. Add the cheese when the centre is hot but not yet boiling/bubbling. 

Cooking from the fridge:

If you have prepared this dish in advance, up until the end of point 11, and you are cooking it directly from the fridge, you will need to give it an extra 10 minutes in the oven with the foil. I.e. foil on for 40 minutes, remove foil, top with remaining cheese and continue to cook without the foil for a further 10 – 15 minutes.


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