Italian Baked Sausage and Pasta – ★★★★✩

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This recipe had me at pasta and sausage. Who doesn’t love an Italian style bake?! It’s easy and IT’S DELICIOUS! This one seems like it has a lot of steps but it’s actually pretty effortless. I was impressed with how nicely each step came together and even more impressed with how crazy my children could get when I had 10 minutes between steps to rest.. Cooking with kids in the house is no easy feat, which is why I really enjoy these types of recipes that give me short bursts of time to give them some attention. The only thing that turned Perry off a bit was how this pasta dish reheated the next day for lunch. I will let him explain it in his rating/review, but I believe what happened to him is because of microwave user error. I did not have the experience he did but that might be because I heated mine up in the oven. I found it to be wonderfully creamy as a left over.

“When Kels first served this it was awesome. The pasta was perfect, the sausage was savory, the tomatoes were sweet/tangy and the sauce was creamy. What happened the following day is the reason I am giving this one four stars. Don’t get me wrong it was still delicious, but the texture changed which threw me off. It was so creamy the night before that I was a little disappointed when it took on a grainy ricotta texture after being reheated. I still enjoyed it but be informed that when you make this the leftovers might take on a new identity. I would definitely eat this again even as a left over!”

Serves: 6     Calories: 400 per serving    Time: 1 hour 20 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 lb Italian chicken sausage
  • 1 6 oz. bag baby spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato pasta sauce, we used a sweet basil variation
  • 1 container plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk, we used 1%
  • 1 and 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, we used reduced fat
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Boil a large pot of water and cook pasta. You don’t want it to be cooked completely because you are going to bake it. You still want a little crunch when you strain it. (DON’T STRAIN UNTIL YOU READ STEP # 6)
  3. Spray a large pan with cooking spray and cook sausage over medium heat until cooked through/browned (approximately 15 minutes).
  4. Add in garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds or until fragrant. Turn off heat, remove sausages, and scrape what sauce and garlic is left in the pan into a bowl.
  5. Slice the sausage into bite-sized disks.
  6. Place the spinach in the bottom of your strainer. When pasta is done, pour pasta and pasta water over the spinach allowing the spinach to wilt.
  7. Pour pasta, sausage, spinach, and tomatoes into bowl with the garlic.
  8. Add tomato sauce, yogurt, milk, 1 cup of the cheese, and spices. Mix very well.
  9. Pour into casserole dish. Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Cover dish with foil.
  10. Cook for 30 minutes covered. Remove foil, cook for an additional 10 minutes.
*Photo is an original belonging to me
*Recipe adapted from http://www.taylormadebytaylorbee.com/
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