Dry pasta noodles absorb the flavor of the sauce in which they are baked. The liquid from the sauce, combined with the steam created during cooking, is enough to prevent the noodles from drying out. Beginning with a basic formula of noodles and sauce, you can create any number of flavor combinations for your unique baked pasta dish.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a thin layer of the pasta sauce -- between 1/8-inch to 1/2-inch thick.
Add the dry pasta noodles to the baking dish.
Cover the pasta with more sauce and stir it to ensure that every piece of pasta is covered in sauce.
Add more sauce, if necessary, over the top. No pasta noodles should be protruding above the top layer of sauce.
Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil.
Bake for about 45 to 55 minutes.
Remove the aluminum foil and add cheese topping, if desired.
Return the pasta to the oven and bake, uncovered, for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the pasta is al dente and the cheese is lightly browned. To test the pasta, spear one noodle with a fork and remove it from the dish. Allow it to cool briefly before taking a bite. Different pasta shapes will cook at varying speeds. Small, thin pieces of pasta may be done in less than one hour, but larger, thicker shapes may require more baking time.