Skillet Baked Penne

I’ve never understood the people that eat those uncrustable sandwiches.

You know the ones – they come in a box in the freezer section. Rounds of bread, with no crust, filled with peanut butter and jelly.

Things I don’t get:

1. Frozen sandwich, really? You can’t slap some pb&j on bread? I think it takes less time to do it fresh than to thaw the frozen sandwich.

2. Rounds of white bread with all traces of a crust removed? No thank you.


Maybe I don’t get it because I’ve always liked a good crust.

The heels of freshly baked bread.

The crispy, crumbly top of a scratch made macaroni and cheese.

The ends of a meatloaf.

The top layer of Thanksgiving stuffing.

The buttery edges of a hot-out-of-the-oven biscuit.


I love the crunchy mixed with the creamy. Crisp with smooth. End with middle.


Last week, I had some tomato sauce and ground beef leftover in the fridge and no ideas.

But then I saw my cast iron skillet and – click – I knew what I was making for dinner.


Whole wheat penne cooked and then crisped up in the skillet with onion and garlic, tossed with tomato sauce, covered in cheese, and baked. If you didn’t know, cast iron pans give just about everything a good crust: pancakes, fried chicken, biscuits. And if you don’t have one, you need one. You will fall in love – you can make anything in it, and they’re super easy to clean.

So this pasta. I wanted it encased with a crust.

Crispy on every edge, cheesy and creamy in the middle.


If you don’t eat your crusts, you can pass it to me.


Skillet Baked Penne

Makes: 4-6 servings


  • 8 oz. dry whole wheat penne
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp parsley
  • 1/2 Tbsp basil
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella, shredded


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring large pot of water to a boil and add pasta. Cook 8-10 minutes until al dente. Drain and rinse.
  3. While pasta is cooking, heat cast iron pan over medium heat on stove top.
  4. Add beef, and cook, breaking up with a spoon, 5-10 minutes or until the beef is cooked and no longer pink.
  5. Remove beef from the pan.
  6. Add olive oil to the pan and toss in garlic and onion.
  7. Cook 2-3 minutes until fragrant and softened.
  8. Add in drained and rinsed pasta. Let the pasta sit and cook 4-5 minutes or until the bottom layer is golden and some edges of pasta are browning a bit.
  9. Stir in the beef, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, and seasonings.
  10. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the pasta and place in the oven.
  11. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and melted.
  12. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.


  1. ::raises hand:: I loved uncrustables. I would always buy them in high school for lunch!!!

    • :) My breakfast of choice in high school was either chocolate milk at home or a nestea from the vending machine and those cream cheese and chive crackers!

  2. Heres the thing- you must LOVE those people….because they leave all the crusty goodness for us :) The butt of the bread is my most favorite part. I love love love crust! This looks totally delicious. You’re really rocking that skillet!

    My old boss LOVED uncrustables. I’ve never had one

  3. I actually had to google what uncrustables were! oh mah geez really!?!? they are one of the weirdest thangs I have evvery seen. ANd how clever to put the pasta in the skillet, I need to try that, I love when pasta has the crunchy texture :)

  4. This is my kind of dinner! I’ve never tried uncrustables, but I have to say I’ve been intrigued. After all, they do have peanut butter in them:-)

  5. I am so happy right now that I bought a cast iron skillet last month.
    And I like the crusts too, like pizza crust? Um hand it over. Who throws away bread??

  6. Ugh I got one of those sandwiches at the airport once as a last resort and it was soo horrible! That penne on the other hand, looks delicious! :)

  7. yeah, there’s a college student rotating through our lab this summer and at lunch last week he took the crusts off his bread. i of course gave him a hard time ;) and then made him try some of my sauteed kale (he doesn’t like veggies either), which he liked! haha. anyways, i’m with you, crusts please!! great dinner :)

  8. I’m right there with you on the frozen pb&j. It’s the epitome of laziness and why toss out a perfectly good crust? I’m a fan of crust, myself. The worst are the frozen egg white patties, seriously???

  9. I was craving exactly this last night but we had no penne! Now I want it even more ;) I think I’ve got to pick myself up some asap because I will not stop thinking about this dish until I do!

  10. This looks like the ideal comfort food. YUM.

  11. I agree. I so <3 crust. I don't get people who don't like it either. It adds such a nice textural contrast.

  12. I never understood Uncrustables either. I, too, am a fellow crust lover! Especially soft pizza crusts…yum!
    This pasta looks delicious. Gotta dust off the old skillet though. I haven’t used it in forever! :-P

  13. I’m a total crust girl. Sometimes I’ll even steal my husband’s pizza crust, because I can’t get enough. I don’t have any cast iron… I’m kind of scared of it!

  14. This looks great and I too love crust of any kind especially on my Mom’s mac & cheese.

  15. Heel of meat loaf? My favorite! This looks like a nice simple and delicious dinner

  16. You can’t go wrong with pasta! Looks great!

  17. confession: uncrustables got me through freshman year of college and I don’t regret a single one :)

  18. I have been wanting a cast iron skillet forever! I wish I would have registered for one:)

  19. that melted, slightly crusty, golden brown cheese has me weeping with desire. sooooo good!!!

  20. mmmm looks delish! :)

  21. I love the idea of cooking this in a skillet. And I’m completely on board about the frozen crustless sandwiches. Yuck!

  22. I’m with you! those uncrustables are so overpriced and worthless! I cringe when we walk past them in the grocery and my kids start asking for them…

    Look at this pasta! looks fantastic! Have never baked up my pasta this way in my skillet. Love it!

  23. Can I have all the chewies and you keep all the crunchies?

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