This is a sponsored post. My opinions are my own.
I have a confession – while I love cooking – I absolutely detest the cleanup.
While some people find zen while doing dishes, I don’t. And, when I know a dish is going to be beyond especially messy and will require a bit of soaking and scrubbing, well, there’s a strong likelihood I might not make it or try to find another way to prepare it where it doesn’t get so *ahem* messy (hello ham in the slow cooker!). I also am one of those that tends to use a few extra dishes than what might be normally necessary which means more dishes and more mess. Clearly, I need to streamline.
One of my absolute favorite comfort go-to recipes is baked pasta. When I started on my culinary journey years ago, I can recall quite a few dish fails but baked pasta was one of those that I knew I could prep for a small group or a crowd and everyone would love. Granted, the way I started making it was essentially dumping pasta, sauce with a bit of ground hamburger and a couple spices, cover it with cheese and bake in a disposable tin (see – I hate the cleanup!) like one of my friends taught me to do. As I would make it often, eventually I graduated to using my Le Creuset enamel baking dishes and, while they were okay with the cleanup, I still had to soak those baking dishes for a spell.
I eventually learned that a spritz of PAM on my baking dishes would mean that the sticky gooey crispy mess that you might find baked on the pans would rinse off with barely a scrub of the dish brush. Also – if you spritz a bit of PAM on the foil if you lightly tent and cover it (as I do sometimes depending on the preparation), the cheese wouldn’t stick – definitely making baked pasta a dish that would be in the regular rotation.
Now when I make this baked pasta, I tend to make a quick and easy homemade sauce to coat my favorite pasta – cavatappi – and, instead of the ground hamburger, I love adding a few links of fresh Italian sausage and ground turkey for the meat sauce. Also – I love the Italian blend cheeses that have not only mozzarella but also some other faves like fonatina, asiago and romano to give the cheesy crust a bit of a bite. Serve with a light salad and a bit of crusty bread and you have a comfort dinner that will be a family favorite – and won’t have you cursing the dishwasher for making you run the pan through the wash cycle more than once.
On to the recipe:
Gather your ingredients
My secret weapon for easy cleanup – PAM – and yes, that’s one of my first baking dishes I bought eons ago – still looks fantastic!
Fresh Italian sausage – nothing like it
A few spices to add some zest to the sauce
Look at that lovely – hot, bubbly and covered with melted cheese
Aly M. Cleary
Baked Pasta with Italian Sausage is always a family favorite. Layers of pasta with Italian Sausage and a homemade meat sauce that will have your family thinking it's Sunday dinner. It couldn't be easier to make!
15 minPrep Time
55 minCook Time
1 hr, 10 Total Time
- PAM Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
- 8 ounces of your favorite dried pasta - I love cavatuppi pasta in this
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 pound of lean ground turkey
- 3 links of mild Italian sausage
- 1 medium onion or 2 small onions, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 6 ounce can of tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of dried basil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried oregano
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (depending on your spice level)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 cup of your favorite shredded Italian blend cheese
- Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with the PAM and set aside. The last thing you want is a sticky pasta pan!
- In a heavy bottom dutch oven, over medium high heat, add the olive oil.
- Brown the ground turkey and the Italian sausage until the meat is browned. Remove the browned meat to a paper lined plate and drain most of the fat.
- Add the onions and cook until translucent.
- Add the garlic and saute for a minute more.
- Add some of the crushed tomatoes and, using a wooden spoon, scrape off the brown bits from the bottom of the pot (if there were any).
- Add the remaining crushed tomatoes, followed by the tomato paste, sugar, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. If you would like a more loose sauce, add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water to loosen it up.
- Stir to combine everything and simmer for 20 minutes or so.
- While the sauce is simmering, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
- Fill a large saucepan with water.
- Salt the water when it comes to a boil and add the pasta.
- Let cook for about 6 minutes or so until it's just short of al dente.
- To the baking dish, add a layer of sauce so that it covers the bottom of the pan.
- Follow that with a bit of pasta and then a bit of cheese.
- Do another layer of sauce, pasta and cheese.
- Drizzle a bit more sauce over the pasta and cover with the remaining cheese.
- Place the baking pan on a cookie sheet in case of any bubble overs and bake, uncovered, for about 15 - 20 minutes, until the cheese is toasty brown.
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by ConAgra via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of ConAgra.