Don’t feel like boiling noodles and cooking for hours? This Pesto Ricotta Pasta Bake is one of our favorite Dutch oven camping recipes that makes a great lazy man’s lasagna.
How I’ve Made It Easy
Classic lasagna is not an easy recipe. It typically starts with bringing cold water up to boil to cook the noodles to al dente. Then rinse the hot pasta and lay it out on a clean kitchen towel or paper-towel lined baking sheet to cool. Then fry the meat followed by making the sauce. You’ll also have to make the ricotta mixture. You’ll need to stir in a large bowl to combine ricotta with different cheeses. Then use a large casserole dish to layer the ingredients starting with sauce at the bottom of the pan and building up. The whole thing can take all day and you’ll have a ton of dishes to wash too!
I need easy dinner recipes at the campsite so I created this recipe that:
- Uses oven-ready lasagna noodles (no boiling required).
- Uses prepared pesto sauce or an easy homemade sauce that can be made in advance and frozen.
- Is made in one single pan, a camp Dutch oven.
- Drops and sprinkles ingredients into the pot rather than mixing them in a bunch of separate bowls.
I created this pesto pasta bake to enjoy comfort food in the wilderness with as much flavor as possible with as little effort as possible so I used a prepared pesto sauce.
If you prefer to make your own, a great way to keep it simple is to make it ahead and freeze it in small portions. Just throw some fresh basil leaves, garlic cloves, pine nuts, parmesan cheese and olive oil into a food processor, do a couple of pulses and you’re done! Get my entire Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe and tips for keeping it a bright green!
This baked pesto pasta recipe uses grape tomatoes but if you want more pronounced tomatoey strong flavors, swap the basil pesto for a tomato pesto.
Prep To Make This Recipe
This recipe calls for cherry tomatoes to be sliced in half. If you buy pre-shredded cheese, you’re done. If not, you need to shred some mozzarella cheese and grate some parmesan cheese too.
Methods Of Cooking This Meal
If you’re making this as one of our easy campfire recipes, you’ll need to get your fire going with a nice hardwood that is good for producing cooking coals. Alternatively, you can use charcoal briquettes.
RV Cooking Tip: This is one of our awesome one pot camping meals if you’re cooking outside using a Dutch oven. If you are making this recipe in your RV oven, you’ll need to fry the sausage in a large skillet, then build the ingredients in an oven-safe baking dish.
Steps To Make Pesto Ricotta Lazy Day Lasagna
Step 1. Prepare your ingredients as directed. When I make camping dinner recipes that call for grated Parmesan cheese, I like to take a few extra seconds and freshly grate it. I use pre-shredded mozzarella cheese in a bag from the grocery store.
Step 2. Prepare your heat source for baking in a 10-inch Dutch oven at a temperature of 350 degrees F. That will be 21 coals total (14 for the top of the lid and 7 below the bottom of the pot). If you are using a different oven size, check our Dutch oven temperature chart to see how many coals you’ll need.
Step 3. Brown the sausage. Make sure you break the sausage up into small pieces as you brown it so it evenly spreads as a layer. You’ll remove it from the pot to let it drain.
Step 4. Build the lasagna. You’ll layer half the ingredients in this order, then repeat with remaining ingredients:
- Noodles (break the lasagna noodles to fit in the pan)
- Ricotta (drop dollops of ricotta cheese from a spoon)
Step 5. Bake at 350 F degrees. This meal needs to bake until the pasta is tender and the cheese is golden brown and bubbly, approximately 35-40 minutes.
Step 6. Let stand, slice and serve. Remove from heat and remove lid, let stand about 10 minutes before slicing. If you have leftovers, store them refrigerated in an airtight container.
I like serving a simple chopped romaine or spinach salad when I make pasta recipes at camp.
The last time I made this recipe I served it with garlic bread. After a long day on the trail, if you want to make something easier, just slice a loaf of Italian bread and serve with a drizzle of pesto.
Check out more easy camping meals with Italian and Mexican flavor profiles.
Prefer a tomato sauce, traditional lasagna? Try this Dutch Oven Lasagna that features ground beef and Italian sausage in a tomato-based sauce with a splash of red wine.
This Dutch Oven Pasta Stuffed Manicotti combines Italian sausage, mozzarella and ricotta filling with spaghetti marinara sauce that is piped into Manicotti (so much easier than stuffed pasta shells and cheesier than baked ziti!)
Ignore the package directions, no need to boil a large pot of water! Make this One Pot Spaghetti right on your stove top and cook pasta right in the sauce.
Craving Mexican flavors? Try these Cast Iron Dutch Oven Chicken Enchiladas. You’ll just toss some shredded chicken breasts with prepared enchilada sauce and a little bit of onion and cheddar cheese, roll it up into a tortilla and bake.
Print This Dutch Oven Pesto Ricotta Baked Pasta Dish
Dutch Oven Pesto Ricotta Baked Pasta Dish (Lazy Man Lasagna)
- 1 pound bulk hot Italian sausage Use mild Italian sausage for a less spicy dish.
- 1/2 12 oz. package oven-ready lasagna noodles
- 1 10 oz. jar prepared basil pesto sauce (see note below for fresh version).
- 1 10 oz. carton grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 15 oz. carton whole milk ricotta cheese (You can substitute low fat, but it won’t give you that creamy ricotta consistency.)
- 1 8 oz. package shredded mozzarella cheese (if you’re shredding it yourself, you’ll need 2 cups mozzarella)
- 1 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano optional for serving
- Red pepper chilli flakes optional for serving
- Prepare coals for baking at 350 F degrees. For a 10-inch Dutch oven: 21 coals total (14 top/7 bottom).
- Heat 10-inch cast iron Dutch oven over medium high heat. NOTE: You’ll have a nice thick lasagna with a 10 inch large pot, a 12 inch Dutch oven will make a thinner lasagna. If you use a different size oven, check my Dutch oven temperature chart to see how many coals you need and keep a close eye on it. https://www.campingforfoodies.com/dutch-oven-temperature-chart/. RV Cooking Tip: If you’re making this recipe in your RV oven, you’ll need to fry the sausage in a large skillet, then build the ingredients in an oven-safe dish, like a casserole dish.
- Brown sausage, breaking it up as it cooks, remove from pan and let drain on paper towel.
- Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and drain most of the grease, if you use a leaner sausage there won’t be much grease to drain. Place oven over 7 coals as you build the lasagna. Be careful not to burn yourself on the hot oven.
Build the lasagna:
- Pour 1/2 of pesto on bottom of the oven
- Layer 1/2 of the noodles (break them to fit in the pan)
- Layer 1/2 of the sausage
- Layer 1/2 of the tomatoes
- 1/2 of the ricotta (drop dollops of ricotta cheese from a spoon)
- 1/2 of the mozzarella
- 1/2 of the parmesan
Then top with remaining ingredients in this order:
- Remaining pasta
- Remaining pesto
- Remaining sausage
- Remaining tomatoes
- Remaining ricotta
- Remaining mozzarella
- Remaining parmesan
- Place lid on oven and set remaining 14 coals on the lid. NOTE: if you use a different size oven, check this Dutch oven temperature chart to see how many coals you need to maintain a 350 F degree baking temperature. If you use a larger oven, the lasagna may turn out thin and overcooked so adjust cooking times as necessary. https://www.campingforfoodies.com/dutch-oven-temperature-chart/
- Bake until the pasta is tender and the cheese melts, is golden brown and bubbly, approximately 35-40 minutes. Rotate the lid and oven 1/4 turns in opposite directions every 15 minutes for even baking.
- Remove from heat and remove lid, let stand about 10 minutes before slicing.
- Sprinkle with dried oregano on the entire top of the dish, if desired.
- If you have heat-lovers, serve red pepper flakes in the shakable container on the side (these are dried red peppers that are too spicy to add directly to the dish).
More Yummy Meal Ideas
Make every meal on your trip an easy and delicious one!
If you’re looking for awesome ideas for yummy camping food, you’re in the right place!
Here’s our entire camping recipes list.
Our Camping Products Make Great Gifts!