Pasta is a great family dinner because it is easy to prepare, delicious and cost effective. Being a cheese lover, I actually prefer a baked pasta over just plain pasta with tomato sauce. The added cheese mixture of ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella adds great texture and flavor to the dish. It also can serve more people because it is more filling (extra bonus). Plain baked pasta is great, but I’m also always trying to find ways to add some meat to dinner dishes for the hubby. He likes his meat, so I try to always add some in somehow into dinner. Having extra sausage in my freezer, I decided to dress up baked pasta with some delicious hot sausage. Feel free to use sweet as well, it will be equally delicious. This recipe serves a bunch, so feel free to half the recipe, or even freeze the leftovers for another dinner. Two in one, how great is that. So jazz up your baked pasta and enjoy. Make the first bite count!
Total Time: 1 hour
1 box (16 ounces) pasta, any kind you prefer (I used Farfalle)
5-6 sausage links, hot or sweet (depending on your preference)
1 (15 ounces) container of ricotta cheese (I used part-skim)
1 and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3 1/2 cups tomato sauce (a jar or homemade), divided
fresh basil, optional (for topping)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season generously with salt and add the pasta. Cook about 2 minutes less than the time on the box for al dente. It will continue to cook in the oven. Drain and reserve.
3. While pasta is cooking, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove the sausage from its casing and add to the pan. Break up into pieces and cook until no longer pink, about 5-6 minutes. Remove and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain some grease.
4. While sausage is cooking, in a medium bowl combine ricotta, eggs, 1 cup of mozzarella, parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried parsley.
5. I like to use a tin foil pan (for easy clean-up) about the size of a 13×9 pan. Add the pasta, cheese mixture, and 3 cups of sauce. Stir to combine right in the foil pan. Spread to make an even layer. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup over the top of the pasta and then sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
6. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese on top melts. Serve with fresh basil on top, if desired.