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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

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I recently stocked up on Barilla Plus pasta and have been looking for new recipes to use up the rotini, penne, and spaghetti taking up space in my cabinet. Since the baked vegetable mac and cheese was a hit, I couldn't resist another baked pasta. Baked pasta dishes are classic. They're easy to prepare, can be made ahead of time, and are generally well-received. The same can be said about this one, a Martha Stewart recipe.

The best thing about this recipe is that it makes a ton! I filled one 9 x 13 pan as well as a 8-inch pan, which I then froze. A few weeks later we pulled it out, baked it up, and it was just as good as the "fresh" version! Depending on the size of your family, you could easily fill a few pans to freeze or give away to someone who needs a home-cooked meal. I promise you no one will turn down this meal!

One Year Ago: Spaghetti Pie

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage
adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food

-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 medium red onion, chopped
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1/4 cup vodka
-1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes with juice, lightly crushed with hands
-1/2 tsp dried oregano
-1 lb penne
-1/2 cup heavy cream (I used 1/4 cup heavy cream & 1/4 cup skim milk)
-10 ounces baby spinach
-12 ounces chicken sausage, halved lengthwise & sliced 1/4 inch thick (I used asiago fennel flavored)
-6 ounces shredded Italian cheese
-1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Boil a large pot of salted water. Once boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Add spinach, cooking just until wilted. Drain and return contents to pot.
2. While water is coming to a boil, heat oil is a separate skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion, cooking until translucent (approximately 3 minutes). Stir in garlic. Remove skillet from heat, stir in vodka, and return to heat, cooking until almost evaporated (about 1 minute).
3. Stir in tomatoes and oregano, cooking for 10-15 minutes, until tomatoes are falling apart. Add cream/milk and cook until warmed through (5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add tomato sauce, sausage, and most of the Italian cheese to the large pot with the pasta. Toss with a large spoon to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Divide into baking dishes (I did one 9 x 13 and one 8-inch square). Top with remaining shredded cheese and parmesan. Bake at 400 degrees until browned and crisp (20-30 minutes).
**To freeze--prepare dish (except the extra cheese at the end) and let it cool. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze. To bake, do not thaw. Remove from freezer, take off plastic wrap, cover with foil, and bake at 400F for 1 1/2-1 3/4 hours. Remove foil, top with additional cheese, and bake for 20-30 more minutes.