What are Pasta Cakes?
Cake for lunch or dinner? Why not? Let’s explore how a mealtime staple gets turned into something fun to eat, just by changing its preparation. A pasta cake is part lasagna / part pasta dish, but mostly, simple to prepare. With the following recipes you’ll get a chance to see the different methods for making pasta into a “cake”.
Isn’t that that same thing as a Pasta Bake?
‘Pasta cakes’ are similar to ‘pasta bakes’, except they hold their shape much like a cake would. So the difference is that a pasta bake is when the pasta ingredients are placed into the oven, usually in a baking pan. They tend to be saucy and need to be served using a spoon. But pasta cakes retain their shape, can be sliced into pieces, and they are baked in and held together using different methods: like the shape of what you bake it in, or using eggier recipes.
Pasta cakes are only limited to your imagination. After testing these recipes, you could put your own spin on them and make virtually any of your favorite pasta dishes into a pasta cake! They are a wonderful twist on our favorite pastas and even make leftovers still pretty to look at! Virtually any flavorful pasta dish can be modified to become a pasta cake. Feeding large groups can sometimes be a challenge and these recipes make pasta cakes a fun and easy way to feed a hungry army. Here are a few of our favorites that we’d like to share.
1. Martha Stewart’s Pasta Cake
Our first recipe is a meatless, yet rich and tasty version of the pasta cake. Martha Stewart explores a more eggy version of the pasta cake which leads this one to be more rich in flavor and very filling. With its spinach and egg base, it is a subtle nod to a quiche. Due to the structure of the pasta cake needing to be firm, this is not a saucy dish, but rather a dense and sliceable one with nice flavors.
The pecorino and the ricotta add a tanginess to the cake that makes it a yummy take on a pasta bake. The pretty cake-like presentation, along with the creaminess of the ricotta and nutmeg, up this recipe to being worthy of a date night meal. But its simple ingredients and easy preparation, make this recipe enjoyable for a family as well.
2. Spaghetti Cake
Our next recipe takes a family favorite and changes its shape and texture to create a wonderful and fun take on spaghetti. Spaghetti is a staple in many homes and this is a great way to change it up and make it a unique weeknight meal or a special event dish. With simple ingredients (including the always crowd favorite- bacon), along with its portability, this makes a perfect dish for potlucks! The sharpness of the cheddar and the smokiness of the bacon make this normally everyday dish feel a bit special. This would be great served at an event due to its presentation, and ability to be made in large batches.
3. Jamie Oliver’s Carbonara Cake
The carbonara cake recipe (from Jamie Oliver) is easily our most decadent of the recipe options. This is because its made with 3 of our favorite melty cheeses (such as Gruyère, cheddar, parmesan) and heavy cream to help hold its shape. While the specific recipe calls for ham, it really could easily be adapted to become vegetarian or make use of seasonal vegetables you might have on hand.
I also feel this one might be the most spectacular once unveiled depending on the height of the pan you use. Once popped out of the mold, the crispy outside reveals a creamy inside. You can amaze your guests or family with a beautiful presentation with not too much added effort.
4. Capellini Cakes (Capellini al Forno)
Of all of our favorite recipes, the capellini cake is the one that has the most layered-cake look! And with the layers of prosciutto and the sprinkling of breadcrumbs to finish this off, this just might feel the most like you are partaking in an actual cake.
Although this is a pasta dish, the amount of meat makes it a hearty meal for the hungriest of eaters. They won’t feel like they’ve missed out on their protein with this dish. What sets this apart from the other dishes is the crispy bread-crumbed topping which adds such a great texture. This savory, yet visually very cake-like version is truly a delight to eat!
5. Scallop Ceviche on Black Pasta Cakes with Cilantro Salsa
While this has pasta in the form of little cakes, this is by far the most different of the recipes, not only because it’s an appetizer, but also because it has ceviche and salsa! These small beauties are super fancy and a very elegant way to serve ceviche.
In this particular recipe, squid ink pasta (with its dark black color), contrasts beautifully with the white scalloped ceviche. The pasta cakes are a fun canvas for nearly any topping as a fun appetizer for any dinner party. Your friends will think you’ve hired a private chef!
6. Broccoli and Cheese Cupcakes
Probably the most playful and kid-friendly of the recipes, this might just be the way to get your pickiest eater to eat broccoli! While family friendly, these could also make a cute appetizer or addition to a potluck or dinner party too.
The ingredients are those that we might have in the freezer and fridge at any time, so they make a great way to jazz up a weekday meal or bring for a last minute gathering as they are portable and perfect service sized. It’s also great for those days when you don’t have time to make lunch, and just need a little snack to hold you over. Just zap them in the microwave for 30 seconds, and you’re good to go!
7. Tagliatelle Cake with Shrimp
This particular recipe could really be classified as pie more than a cake only because there is a crust on this one, but it still ends up looking like slices of cake once cut. This one is a bit more labor intensive since you need to knead the dough – which ends up being a nice cheesy and crispy outer layer of this dish.
Another beautiful presentation, this one has more color than the others with the shrimp and broccoli as the top layer, so this would be a ‘wow’ type dish to bring to a potluck! I think the crust on this one would make it a very different take on the pasta cake and it would be worth the effort!
As much fun as it’s been to talk about turning pasta into cakes, this rounds out our list. With different styles that would work for date night, parties, entertaining, or even a weekday meal, which recipe would you be tempted to try first and have your first taste of a pasta cake? I am sure that whoever is eating would be excited when they hear you will be serving a pasta cake for a meal!
If you liked these recipes we also recommend checking out on of our favorite pasta dishes, Alison Roman’s Shallot Pasta Recipe post.