Friday, April 1, 2011

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

This is one of those really, really great recipes that works for just about any occasion. Need a reasonably quick dinner idea? Bringing food to a family who just had a baby or is going through a rough time?  Having the in-laws over for dinner? Want to cook something ahead of time and stick it in the freezer for later? For all of those situations, this is a perfect recipe! And it tastes great too!


Recipe adapted from here. Makes a really full 9x13 pan!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
1 14.5oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 c heavy cream (or half & half if you want a healthier, not as creamy version)
1 pound penne pasta (or, you can be like me and use whatever you have lying around - for the photos in this post I used a combo of leftover cavatappi and rigatoni!)
9oz bag fresh baby spinach
12 oz precooked chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick (feel free to get the fancy chicken sausages - andouille or spinach & feta or Italian style or mushroom! The possibilities are endless!)
8 oz shredded mozzarella
1/4 c grated Parmesan

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until translucent (about 3 minutes). Add garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in tomatoes, oregano, and basil. Simmer for 8-10 minutes.
3. Add cream to the skillet and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and/or pepper to taste.
4. Preheat oven to 400. Cook pasta in the big pot according to package directions. Don't overcook! Add spinach to the pot right at the end and cook until wilted. Drain, and return to pot.
5. Add tomato sauce mixture, sausage, and half of mozzarella to the pot. Toss to coat.
6. Scoop pasta into a lightly greased 9x13 pan (or two 8x8s). Top with the rest of the mozzarella and the parmesan.
7. Bake 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is browned and the edges are a bit crisp.

If you're planning to freeze it, stop BEFORE BAKING and cover with a double layer of foil. To cook after freezing: thaw in the fridge for 1-2 days, then bake at 400 for 75 minutes.