Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

Another winning recipe from mykitchencafe. This is everything you could want in a baked pasta dish. It’s warm, cheesy, full of wonderful tomato flavor, and just the slightest bit creamy. We loved it. Mike originally rated it a 4, but as I heated up leftovers the next night, he changed his rating to a 4.5, saying “I seriously think I could eat this almost every day.” If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you’ll know that this is high praise indeed from my husband, who takes great pride in his rating scale. This dish deserves it, however. It looks elegant enough to serve for company, and tastes like it came from an Italian restaurant. This is definitely on our “to make again soon” list.

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

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Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

Yield: *Makes a heaping full 9X13 pan

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 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 penne pasta
9-oz. bag fresh baby spinach
12 ounces precooked smoked chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Cook for another minute. Stir in tomatoes, oregano and basil; simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add cream; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Add spinach to the pot of boiling pasta right at the end and cook until wilted. Drain, and return contents to pot. Add tomato sauce, sausage, and half of mozzarella to the pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop pasta into lightly greased 9X13-inch pan (or divide evenly between two 8X8-inch pans). Top with rest of mozzarella and grated Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

*To Freeze: Prepare recipe 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.

adapted from My Kitchen Cafe