Corrie loved this, which made me a happy camper :).  I unfortunately have officially decided I’m just not a sausage fan.  I used to hate it, have tried to like it, and now wouldn’t say I hate it, but I just would much rather have something else.   However, I think this would be tasty with chicken or as a vegetarian meal.

Before baking:

After baking:

Baked Pasta with Sausage

Slightly adapted from My Kitchen Cafe; adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 10 ounces frozen baby spinach, thawed and drained well  or 1 9-oz. bag fresh spinach (I used the fresh.)
  • 12 ounces precooked smoked chicken (or turkey) sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick (we had italian sausage in the freezer so I used that – cooked it on the stovetop and drained it very well)
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, 4 ounces cut into 1/2-inch cubes and 4 ounces shredded
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

While boiling water to cook the pasta, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Once hot, add the onion, and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.   Then add the garlic and cook for about a minute, but don’t let the garlic burn.

Once the pasta water comes to a boil, add 1 tsp. of salt and cook according to the package directions.  Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, oregano and basil to the onion mixture, and simmer for 8-10 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees while you’re waiting. Add cream, and if using, fresh spinach, cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes.  (The original recipe called to throw the spinach in for a quick blanch at the end of the pasta cooking process, but I made this during finals week, so to help out my time after work, I had precooked the pasta.)  Plus, I like “less cooked” vegetables, so I just let it wilt a little bit in the hot sauce.) Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the pasta, and put it back in the pot.  Add tomato sauce mixture, sausage, and cubed mozzarella to the pot, and combine with the pasta.   Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased 9X13-inch pan.  Top with grated mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes. (Mine was a little crispy on top, so I would probably reduce this until it was just all heated through and the cheese was bubbly.)

I am just going to copy the freezing instructions if you’d like to go that route!

Prepare recipe right up until the baking step and then cover with a double layer of aluminum foil. Freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. To bake, increase baking time to 1 to 1 1/4 hours. If baking from frozen, bake covered for 1 hour and 15 minutes, uncover and bake 30 minutes longer.