Better Baked Pasta for Runners
Pasta is the go to meal of choice for most runners before a big race. It is an easy way to replenish glycogen stores that have become depleted during training. Pasta for runners is great because there are so many different options.
By using different noodles, different sauce, or a different protein source, you can transform each dish into it’s own unique creation. Like a gifted artist who mixes just three primary colors to paint a masterpiece, your pasta dish can turn out the same way.
A Better Pasta Dish
I often find myself going back to the same type of carb-loading routine before every race. On one hand, it is comforting knowing exactly how a certain dish will interact with your system. Eating familiar food in your preparation for a big race is incredibly important.
On the other hand, it can be crazy boring to eat the same noodles and sauce day in and day out for weeks on end.
Years ago, I found the first version of the recipe below. It has since morphed and changed into what you see here. It can be totally different each time, or exactly the same. It does take a bit of preparatory effort, but once you figure it out, it’s simple and you have yourself several meals.
I also like this dish because varying the noodles really does make it completely different. Use spaghetti for something a bit more hot dish like, or lasagna for something more traditional.
Baked Pasta for Runners
This has been adapted from the original (which may have been from Runner’s World?) in so many ways, I think it’s ours now. If you make it (and you should), try altering some of the base ingredients and report back.
- 1 egg
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese (grated)
- 2 cups Parmesan cheese (grated)
- 1 jar red pasta sauce (or whatever you like)
- 15 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 package of your favorite pasta
- 16 oz frozen chopped and cooked kale or spinach
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 lb Italian chicken sausage
Read these through before making this.
- Cook sausage
- Combine egg, ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella and 1 cup Parmesan and greens (thawed).
- Place 1/3 jar of pasta sauce in bottom of dish you’ll be baking in.
- Combine remainder of sauce with tomato paste, diced tomatoes and sausage.
- Place layer of uncooked noodles on top of sauce.
- Cover with 1/2 of cheese mixture and half of remaining sauce mixture.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6.
- Cover with remaining 1 cup of mozzarella and 1 cup Parmesan.
- Put 1/2 cup water distributed around the outside of pan.
- Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour.
- Let sit (covered) for 20 minutes before you cut (do not drain water. It will soak in).
This recipe makes about eight large servings. Make a big batch of it to have on hand throughout the week as a great carb-loading leftover meal.
Also (and I don’t normally recommend this), you can use white noodles instead of whole wheat to avoid added fiber. Fiber is what often causes GI issues while running. If you’re eating this the night before a big race, consider using white noodles.
Contrary to popular belief, a big, heavy meal like this the night before may not be your best bet. Try it two nights before, or lunch the day before.