Friday, July 10, 2009

Baked Penne with Italian Sausage
Image credit: oneordinaryday


1 lb sweet and hot Italian sausages, casings removed
12 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese (about 1½ cups)
4 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, divided
salt and ground black pepper
12 ounces fresh whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 3 cups
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1½ cups)
1½ lbs ziti or other short, tubular pasta
4½ cups Marinara Sauce or jarred tomato sauce
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves (for serving)

1. Bring 6 quarts of water to boil in a large pot over high heat.

2. Meanwhile, cook sausage in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the sausage loses its raw color, about 5 minutes. Drain the sausage on a paper-towel-lined plate and set aside.

3. Mix ricotta cheese, 2 Tbs. of the olive oil, ½ tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. pepper together; set aside. In a separate bowl, toss the mozzarella and Parmesan together until combined; set aside.

4. Add 1½ Tbs. salt and the pasta to the boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Reserve 1½ cups of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Return the drained pasta to the pot and stir in the marinara sauce, sausage, remaining 2 Tbs. oil and reserved pasta cooking water.

5. Pour half of the sauced pasta into a 13×9-inch baking dish. Drop large spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture evenly over the pasta, then pour the remaining sauced pasta over the ricotta layer. Sprinkle the top of the penne evenly with the mozzarella mixture.

6. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400°F. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with vegetable oil spray (or use nonstick foil). Bake until the sauce bubbled lightly around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until pasta is completely heated through, 25 to 30 minutes longer. Sprinkle with basil before serving.

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  1. yummy! this looks delicious! I have some Italian sausage to use up... this just might be the way!

  2. We are having this tonight.. we were so blessed by a farmer's wife by giving us lots of sausage and ground beef. I used the sausage and made alittle less fattening with part skim mozzarella.. and 2 cans of spaghetti sauce since the marinara sauce at the store wasn't on sale.. and I also couldn't find fresh basil leaves so i used fresh parsley.. I have been wanting to make this for awhile Sandra and tonight I finally did...yummy.. and my kids wanted 2nd's. Thanks for all your hard work on these blogs, it takes time to do them, and yours and our families are well worth it. I am also going to try two different muffin mixes of yours this week. The boys are excited to help me.

  3. I made this for dinner last night and it was ridiculously good! I only made a few changes. As always more cheese...I used half of a 32 oz container of ricotta as they didn't sell whole milk any other way here...then about 4 cups of mozzarella (really didn't need that much as it was already over flowing). But the real kicker was that I added a large bag of pepperoni. It added a lot of spice and flavor...definately worth it!! Thanks for the awesome new recipe!! Warning, it does make a ton. We had 4 adults (all who had seconds) and 3 kids and still have half a pan left!! Enjoy!