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Spicy Cheesy Pasta Bake

This spicy, cheesy pasta bake gets its heat from Calabrian peppers and its cheesiness from plenty of mozzarella cheese. You'll love this spicy Calabrian tomato sauce!
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 5
Calories: 623kcal


  • Food processor
  • Wide pot
  • Large pot
  • Sieve or colander


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup jarred Calabrian peppers or use as many or as few peppers as you like depending on your heat tolerance
  • 8 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Calabrian hot honey plus more for serving
  • 2 15- ounce cans cherry tomatoes or use diced tomatoes or whole-peeled tomatoes
  • ¼ cup water
  • .5 ounces basil divided
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 10 ounces mozzarella from a mozzarella log divided
  • 16 ounces tubular pasta such as paccheri rigatoni, or penne
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Mince the peppers and garlic:

  • Transfer the garlic and Calabrian peppers to a food processor and pulse until minced. Set aside.

Start the pasta:

  • Place a large pot of well-salted water on the stove and turn the heat to high.

Prepare the sauce:

  • As you wait for the water to boil, prepare the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a wide, ovenproof pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for 3–5 minutes until it begins to soften.

Cook the peppers and garlic:

  • Add the minced peppers and garlic to the shallot and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and mash it lightly into the aromatics and cook for 2 minutes until it deepens in color. Be careful not to burn the garlic!

Simmer the sauce:

  • Add the hot honey and the canned tomatoes into the pot and add 1/4 cup water. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 20–30 minutes.

Cook the pasta:

  • Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. Right before draining, scoop out 1/4 cup pasta water. Drain the pasta and set it aside.

Prepare the cheese:

  • Before finishing the sauce, prep the cheese. Cut the mozzarella log in half. Dice half the log into bite-sized cubes and thinly slice the remaining half into thin rounds.

Finish the sauce:

  • Taste the sauce and season to your preferences. Add half the basil leaves to the sauce along with the baby spinach and stir until wilted. Add the diced mozzarella to the sauce and toss to combine.
  • Pour in the reserved pasta cooking water along with the cooked pasta and toss to coat. Turn off the heat.

Broil the pasta:

  • Turn the broiler on. Arrange the mozzarella rounds on top of the pasta and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Transfer to the broiler and broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 5-6 minutes, depending on your broiler.

To serve:

  • Scatter the remaining basil leaves on top of the pasta and divide the pasta between shallow bowls. Serve with a touch more hot honey if you like. Enjoy!


Calories: 623kcal | Carbohydrates: 84g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 20g | Sodium: 539mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin C: 20mg
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