Baked Pasta with Italian Sausage

Baked-Pasta-with-Sausage-3Pasta 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!

Baked-Pasta-with-Sausage-1

Baked-Pasta-with-Sausage-2

Total Time:  1 hour

Servings:  6-8

 

Ingredients:

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)

2 eggs

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)

 

Directions:

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.

What’s for Dinner? Week of August 11, 2013

weekof8.11.13

With the family visiting last weekend, I made a big dinner so we had lots of leftovers, which is why you will see in the Menu below 2 separate leftover nights. I was never a big leftover fan, but I hate seeing food go to waste even more than I hate leftovers. So I have learned to make the best of it. Sometimes I reheat leftovers in the toaster oven rather than the microwave, and it keeps most of the delicious flavor it had when you originally made it.

Also, mixed in to the week of dinners was a date night. This past week we did not go visit a beach town, but rather went to a local BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer) Mexican restaurant that we have not visited in a while. The tequila lime wings, empanadas and quesadillas are just amazing. Great Mexican food and the best part is we could bring in our own Coronas to drink. We have even brought a bottle of tequila before and ordered a flavored slushie drink they serve, which is great too. It was a very enjoyable night out and Mexican was a nice change-up to the menu.

When planning your menu, try to vary the meats and types of dishes. If I plan chicken for Monday, I try to plan another type of meat for Tuesday, maybe pork or beef, and then chicken again on Wednesday. Also, being Italian, I could eat Italian food everyday, but I try to vary that as well so my husband gets a little variety. Planning your meals can be a family experience that you have fun doing together. Spouses and children are great for giving you ideas as well. Make the first bite count!

MENU

Sunday – Family Dinner

Eggplant Parmesan | Grilled Beef Tenderloin | Roasted Asparagus | Tomato and Mozzarella Salad | Roasted Potatoes

MondayLeftovers

TuesdayWhite Pizza with Chicken, Tomatoes and Arugula

WednesdayGrilled Sweet and Sticky Chicken with Harissa | Roasted Parmesan Broccoli

ThursdayDate Night!

FridayLeftovers