Baked Penne & (maybe) Sausage Pasta

Baked Penne & (maybe) Sausage Pasta

  • Servings: 4
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This recipe has been in my files for so long that the former 32 oz. standard can of tomatoes the recipe called for has now been reduced to 28 oz.  I wonder if we’re paying almost 10% less for that can?  Dream on.

This is a lasagna for those of us too lazy to make lasagna.  As with almost all pasta dishes, it’s a winner for the one or two person home.  It will reheat fabulously and freeze fabulously.  Make the whole thing!  You’re going to love having that extra amount.  And play with it; add chopped up spinach – fresh or frozen and defrosted – to the sauce before you mix it with the penne.   Switch out the kind of pasta; change the sausage to ground beef or ground chicken – or to easily make it vegetarian, saute 2 cups sliced mushrooms and/or chopped zucchini instead of the meat, drain off most of the liquid, and proceed.


  • 2 T olive oil (divided)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 lb – 1 lb hot Italian sausage – link or bulk (I used Caggiano, a Petaluma sausage company.  Delicious!) Note: if really spicy isn’t your thing, just substitute sweet Italian – or a mix of hot and sweet.
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c red wine
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp oregano (or 1/4 c chopped fresh oregano)
  • 1/2 c water (we’ve got to make up for that smaller size can of tomatoes  – see above!)
  • 1 c ricotta cheese (fresh is great but not essential)
  • 1 c pecorino cheese, grated (parmesan works fine too)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/3 c parsley, chopped
  • 1 lb penne rigate (mine was #41, whatever that means)
  • 1/2 lb mozzarella (again fresh is great but not essential), cut into about 1″ chunks

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly oil either 2 8″x8″ baking dishes or 1 9″x13″ baking dish.  (Most of you, cooking for one or two, will opt for the 2 dishes, so you can freeze one).

Heat 1 T olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and sausage and saute until the sausage is nearly cooked.  If there’s lots of grease, drain most of it off.  Add the red wine and simmer the mixture until the wine has almost evaporated.  Then add the can of tomatoes, the oregano, and the 1/2 c water, and bring the mixture back to a boil, and (without a lid) simmer for about 10 minutes.  The sauce should have thickened slightly.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper, if needed.

In a large bowl (that LARGE is important) mix the ricotta with about half of the pecorino, the nutmeg, and the parsley.  Add a pinch of salt.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the penne until al dente (mine took about 11 minutes).  Drain it and add the ricotta mixture, tossing so that all the pasta is coated.  Then add the sausage and its sauce to the pasta/ricotta mixture, followed by the chunks of mozzarella.

Pour the mixture into the oiled baking dish (or dishes).  Sprinkle the remaining pecorino on top and bake uncovered for about 20 – 30 minutes, or until steamy hot in the middle. If you want to keep the dish for a day or so before you serve it, refrigerate it unbaked, then bring it to room temperature before baking.  If you’re freezing a dish, cover it tightly and freeze it unbaked.  When you’re ready to eat it, let it sit out of the freezer for at least an hour or so, then add the pecorino on top and put it in the oven.  Be sure the container is oven-proof.  The frozen pasta can also be microwaved, but it won’t be quite as tasty as if you bake it in the oven.

Recipe brought to you by Andy and Ann and Big Little Meals.

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