This simple and satisfying venison pasta bake is an easy and crowd-pleasing way to use up ground venison. It can even be made ahead!
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. pasta (ziti, penne or rigatoni work best)
About 6 cups sauce (from scratch recipe below) OR 2 jars of your favorite pasta sauce (see note)
¾ cup ricotta cheese
1 cup parmesan
2 cups mozzarella cheese
To make sauce from scratch:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1–2 carrots, finely diced
4–5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 and ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14oz) can tomato sauce
Start by making the sauce (see notes if you want to use store-bought sauce)*. Add the olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and saute until the edges start to brown.
When the onion starts to brown, add the ground venison and brown that. Then, add the garlic, Italian seasoning, sugar, salt, pepper, and tomato paste. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes before deglazing the pan with the vinegar.
Finally, add the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce and let the sauce simmer covered over low heat while you prepare the pasta.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease a 9×13-inch (or large) baking dish with olive oil.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta. Drain and set aside. You can toss them in a little bit of olive oil if they’re sticky so they don’t clump together.
Mix together the cooked pasta, sauce, ricotta, and 3/4 cup of the parmesan cheese.
Pour half of the pasta into the baking dish and top with half of the mozzarella cheese. Pour in the remaining pasta and top with the remaining parmesan and mozzarella. If you’re making this ahead of time, cover and place in the fridge for up to 2 days or in the freezer. See notes for adjusted cooking times for making ahead.*
Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the bake is bubbling and the cheese is melted.
- For using storebought sauce: if you’re using storebought sauce, simply brown the meat in 1 Tbsp of oil. Deglaze the pan with 2 Tbsp. balsamic or red wine vinegar and pour in the premade sauce when it’s cooked. Then follow steps 4-8.
- To make ahead: follow steps 1-7 and cover and place in the fridge for up to 2 days or in the freezer. If refrigerating, cook as suggested and add an extra 10 minutes of cook time. If freezing and cooking later, let the bake thaw in the fridge 24 hours prior to baking. Cook as suggested and add an extra 10 minutes of cook time.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Oven/Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian American
Keywords: pasta, pasta bake, venison