Taste: Fresh, rich, and comforting.
Texture: Al dente pasta suspended in melted cheese… one of my favorite textures on the planet. Especially when the cheese on top has browned slightly.
Ease: Just a few more steps than simply pairing pasta with brown beef and sauce.
Appearance: What could look more delicious than ooey, goeey cheese?
Pros: A healthy, affordable, and simple weeknight meal.
Cons: None. Just cheesy goodness.
Would I make this again? This is likely to become a weeknight staple. Especially since I can substitute whatever veggies (mushrooms would be particularly good) and protein I have on hand.
Cheesy Pasta Bake
Adapted from Back to Her Roots
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed
- 12 ounces whole wheat penne, or other small pasta shape
- 1 cup tomato sauce (homemade or jarred)
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup shredded mozzerella
- 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
- 1/4 cup basil, sliced into thin ribbons
- Preheat oven to 375. Bring a large pot of water to a boil on stove and cook penne for about 7 minutes, or until slightly cooked but still firm. The pasta will finish cooking in the oven.
- Meanwhile, heat oil to medium-high heat in a large skillet. Saute pepper and onions until they soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add chicken sausage and saute until cooked through, breaking up into small pieces. Turn off the heat and add the cooked and drained pasta and tomato sauce to the skillet. Toss to combine. Mix in the spinach until it is warmed through and slightly wilted.
- Pour half of the mixture into a baking dish (about 8×8) and sprinkle with half of the mozzerella. Pour remaining pasta mixture into baking dish and sprinkle with remaining mozzerella, parmesan, and basil. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese has melted.