Baked Pasta is a Rich, Delicious and Nutritious Dinner Option.
When time is tight and you need a rich, satisfying and delicious meal, baked penne pasta with Italian sausage is the answer. As nutritious as it is delicious, this cheesy, gooey pasta dish is loaded with protein, calcium, vitamin A and C and heart-healthy antioxidants. Add some red pepper flakes and hot Italian sausage for a spicy version or lighten it up with lower-calorie turkey sausage. Add a fresh, green salad and some hearty artisan bread and dinner is done. This one is a true crowd pleaser!
Baked Penne Pasta...Tastes as Good as it Looks!
What You Will Need To Make This Dish
To prepare this dish, you will need the following cooking equipment:
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- A large pot with a lid for the pasta
It should be large enough to hold at least 4 quarts (or liters) of water for each pound (box) of pasta. Use a lid to bring the water up to a boil quickly but cook the pasta uncovered.
- A colander or pasta strainer
- A large skillet or saucepan for the meat and sauce
- A 9 x 13 baking dish, ceramic, metal or glass
- A couple sturdy wooden spoons
- A rubber spatula (optional)
- Cooking spray or oil to grease the pan
- A chef's knife
- A cutting board
- 1 pound of penne pasta or similar ( a 16 oz. box or package)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 lb. Italian sausage, hot or sweet, casing removed
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
- 3 cups sauce (recipe below), or homemade marinara if you have it, or a jar (24 oz.) of your favorite store bought sauce.
- A handful of fresh basil, rough chopped
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
- 1 (15 oz. ) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
Directions (be sure to watch the video below for a quick lesson)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. When at a rolling boil, add 2 heaping tablespoons of salt and drop in the pasta. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook according to directions but shorten cooking time by one minute. (It will continue to cook in the oven.)
- While the water is heating, heat oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the sausage, garlic and onion and cook over medium heat until the meat is nicely browned. Use your spoon to break up the meat and stir so everything cooks evenly. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Push the meat to the side of the pan and drain excess fat.
- Add the wine and cook for one minute. Using a wisk, scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan (deglazing).
- Stir in your homemade marinara sauce OR add the canned tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and paste. Stir to combine, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- When the pasta is done (still quite firm), carefully reserve a cup of the starchy pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta and add it back into the hot pot, off the heat. Add in the sauce using a spoon or spatula to scrape up every drop. Gently combine. Add in the reserved pasta water and stir to smooth out the sauce. Add the basil at the last minute and toss gently.
- Place in a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Evenly top with the shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Allow pan to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
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Watch This Fun Video to See How Easy it is to Make!
Baked penne with Italian sausage freezes really well. Leftovers can be divided into single-serving containers and kept in the freezer for up to 3 months. Grab one for a quick microwavable lunch or take out enough servings for the whole family in the morning and let them thaw in the fridge. Then heat in the oven. (see directions below)
You might even want to make 2 batches and freeze one. No need to bake the second pan...just cover tightly with foil and freeze. To reheat, just pop it in a 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook another 10 minutes until the center is hot and the cheese is melted. This is a great dish for pot luck get togethers, team dinners and holiday parties. Try it tonight!