Baked Pasta with Tomato, Sausage and Greens

This is one of those simple meals that can be thrown together at the last minute or assembled in advance and baked just before serving. It can be adapted for a crowd, and even frozen before baking. This is more of a technique than a recipe, since it is adaptable to a variety of ingredients. I came across the idea in a great little everyday cookbook called Seriously Simple.

I tend to like to include something green – uncooked arugula or baby spinach or cooked broccoli. Adding a little grated or cubed mozzarella to the dish helps it hold together, and a little spicy sausage gives it zing and body without adding much meat to the meal.  I typically keep individually wrapped sausages in my freezer, which can be defrosted quickly. With home-canned tomato sauce ready to go, this couldn’t be any easier.

Baked Pasta with Tomato, Sausage and Greens adapted from Seriously Simple

½ lb shaped pasta (such as penne, ziti, farfalle)

1 onion, chopped

Olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-1 ½ c tomato sauce

Salt and red pepper flakes

2 hot or sweet Italian-style sausages, casings removed (or use bulk sausage)

Handful of uncooked arugula or spinach leaves (or 1 c chopped cooked broccoli)

½ c cubed mozzarella cheese

1/3 c grated mozzarella cheese

Grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a baking dish.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, sauté the onion in olive oil until translucent and add the garlic. As soon as you can smell the garlic, add the tomato sauce and cook it for a minute at high heat. Turn the heat down and let simmer while the other ingredients are cooking.

Also meanwhile, remove the sausage meat from the casing (if you’re not using bilk sausage) and sauté it until browned and cooked through, Drain off the extra oil.

When the pasta is cooked, toss it with enough tomato sauce to moisten it without being soupy. Add the sausage, cubed mozzarella and the greens, mixing well. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Top with grated mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly.

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