Friday, April 4, 2008

Italian Sausage Baked Pasta

Sausage Penne

This is, by far, my favorite pasta recipe. Full of sausage, pasta, and cheese, it comes out gooey and delicious.  Also this recipe makes a huge amount so you are sure to have leftovers, or if you want you can make the whole batch, and bake one half while you freeze the other for another day.  The spinach is optional but I like having a little green in there.  Make sure you use a really good quality sausage, and feel free to experiment with different flavors that your family might enjoy.  Don't forget to grease the tin foil before you bake it or all your cheese will stick to it!

Adapted from Canadian Living

1 1/2 lbs (750g) Italian sausage (I use mild, but you could try hot)
2 small onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red or green pepper, chopped
1 jar (798 ml) of your favorite jarred pasta sauce-I use Prego original
213 ml (about 3/4 cup) chili sauce
1 tsp each basil, oregano, and fennel seeds
500g (or 5 cups) penne
1 ten ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (use the real stuff, it's better)

Squeeze the sausages out of their skins and brown the meat in a skillet until browned. Remove to plate. Pour most of the fat from the pan, except about 1 tbsp. Brown the onions, garlic and pepper until softened. Stir in the pasta sauce, chili sauce, basil, oregano, and fennel seeds. Bring sauce to a bubble, stirring and scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Return the sausage to the pan, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes until the sausage is cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain well.

In a large bowl, mix together the pasta, sauce, spinach, and 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese. Spoon into a 9x13 inch baking dish (or two smaller dishes) and sprinkle remaining cheeses over top. Cover with tin foil (spray it with oil so the cheese doesn't stick to it) and bake for 30 minutes, or until warm and bubbly.

Serves 8 (or makes 2 meals for 4)

*This dish freezes really well and I often make one to eat and one to stick into the freezer.
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