I have shared my love of casseroles with you before! Well the other night, I really wanted to make a casserole...something warm and comforting - and something that would be dinner for two nights! I do a lot with Mexican flavors - black beans, corn, salsa, cumin, etc. But I really wanted this casserole to be different...perhaps more Italian inspired! So I threw together this great pasta bake instead! And let me tell you...
John ate the casserole and said at least 10 times how amazing it was, how we haven't had something like that in a long time, and how I better put it on the blog! So now I am sharing it with you!
Here's What You Need to Make the Penne Sausage Bake
- 1 pound sausage (whatever kind you like...I used pork sausage)
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 to 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 - 28oz can of San Marzano Tomatoes
- 12 oz (or what I consider 3/4 of a box) whole wheat penne
- 1/4 cup cooking water (from the pasta)
- 1/4 cup half and half (or milk or cream...whatever you have)
- 3 cups shredded Italian Cheese Blend (plain provolone or plain mozzarella would work too)
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
Now Let's Make the Penne Sausage Bake
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9x13 casserole dish
- In a large skillet, cook sausage, breaking it up as you cook until it is browned and crumbled
- Add in diced onion and cook about 5 minutes (until the onions are soft and translucent)
- Add in garlic and cook for another minute or two
- Add in your can of San Marzano Tomatoes and use a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes (alternatively, you can use your hands to squish the tomatoes as your pour them into the pan...but I just used a spoon...I left the sauce somewhat chunky)
- Stir in a pinch of red pepper flakes (you can use more or less depending on how spicy you want your sauce...I just wanted a little kick but not too much because of the girls)
- Simmer your sauce for 10 minutes or longer if you have the time
- While your sauce is simmering, cook your penne pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water until it is a few minutes shy of al dente
- At this point, taste your sauce and add salt and pepper to taste
- Add 1/4 cup of your pasta cooking water and 1/4 cup of half and half to your sauce and stir
- Combine pasta with sauce and stir in 1 cup of shredded cheese
- Pour mixture into prepared casserole and sprinkle top with remaining two cups of cheese
- Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the edges of your casserole begin to get brown (I like the edges to be slightly crisp)
- Allow to sit for at least five minutes before serving
All four members of the Hilosky Family ate this meal...and all four loved it! Hooray for a successful, new dinner!
Come back tomorrow for my 12 Days of Christmas Cookies Recipe #2!!!