Baked Penne with Italian Sausage is a totally perfect comfort food dinner.
This pasta dish incorporates both sweet and hot Italian sausage, and all other basic lasagna ingredients- ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, marinara and basil. I lighten it up a bit by using low fat ricotta and part-skim mozzarella. It’s a perfect recipe to take to a new mom or someone else in need. But if you’re just in need yourself of a good pasta dinner, then make this Baked Penne with Italian Sausage!
How to make Baked Penne with Italian Sausage:
The complete, printable recipe is at the bottom of this post. You’ll cook the pasta on the stove in a pot of boiling water. While the pasta is cooking, you will cook the sausage on the stove. One key tip here is that you’re going to save some of the pasta water before you drain the pasta. This starchy water will be used in the recipe, so don’t forget to do that.
The drained pasta goes back into the pot, and then it’s combined with marinara sauce, the cooked sausage and the reserved pasta water. Half of the pasta mixture is scooped into a big casserole dish. Then it’s topped with salt and peppered ricotta cheese.
The rest of the pasta mixture is spooned on top of the ricotta cheese and then the whole thing is sprinkled with plenty of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. The Baked Penne with Italian Sausage is then covered with foil and baked for half an hour. Then the foil is removed and it’s baked for another half hour until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted.
It’s then ready for serving! As you can see, the recipe makes a lot of pasta! It easily feeds 8 people. You can cut the recipe in half, and it will feed four people.
If you’d like to make this dish ahead, wrap the prepared casserole with plastic wrap and then foil, and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to one month. (If frozen, the casserole must be thawed completely in the refrigerator, about 24 hours, before baking). Be sure to remove the plastic wrap. You can also divide this meal into two 8×8-inch casserole dishes (each will serve 4). Eat one and freeze one!
This is a pasta dish that is packed full of cheese and tomato sauce. Use a marinara sauce in the recipe that you like a lot. I always use the Classico brand Tomato- Basil. On the top of the baked pasta, you’ll find some of those baked crispy pieces of pasta that everyone loves. Enjoy!
Here are a few more recipes using Italian sausage that you might like to try:
- Italian Sausage Vegetable Soup
- Creamy Pumpkin Pasta with Sweet Italian Sausage
- Low Fat Sausage Stuffing
- Easy One-Skillet Sausage and Peppers with Rice
- Sausage Stuffed Zucchini
- Honey Barbecue Sausage Meatloaf
- Italian Sausage and Tortellini Skillet
- Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage
Baked Penne with Italian Sausage
- 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage
- 8 ounces hot Italian sausage
- 12 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1½ cups shredded Parmesan cheese
- 24 ounces penne pasta (can also use rotini)
- 5 cups marinara sauce
- chopped fresh basil for garnish, optional
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat.
- Meanwhile, cook sausage in a 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.
- In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta cheese with salt and pepper; set aside. In a separate bowl, toss the mozzarella and Parmesan together until combined; set aside.
- Add 1½ tablespoons of 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, and reserved pasta cooking water.
- Pour half of the sauced pasta into a deep 13x9-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.
- Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake until the sauce bubbles lightly around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the pasta is completely heated through, 25 to 30 minutes longer. Sprinkle with basil before serving, if desired.
- *If you'd like to make this dish ahead, wrap the prepared casserole with plastic wrap and then foil, and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to one month. (If frozen, the casserole must be thawed completely in the refrigerator, about 24 hours, before baking). Be sure to remove the plastic wrap.
- *You can also divide this meal into two 8x8-inch casserole dishes (each will serve 4). Eat one and freeze one!