Cheesy Pasta Bake

Less than 10 days till Christmas! It seems as we approach the holidays so many people (myself included) become obsessed with holiday treats. I mean, who doesn’t love cookies and fudge and ‘smores and hot chocolate? But we can’t neglect savory food since we do need it (at least) twice a day. This cheesy baked pasta is both nourishing and comforting and quick enough for a busy weeknight. 
Psst.. don’t forget to enter my latest Holiday Giveaway for a free online cooking course!

Recipe Rundown
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
Serves 4-6
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
  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
   

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11 Responses to “Cheesy Pasta Bake”

  1. #
    1
    Ms. WhitePlates — December 17, 2010 at 12:34 am

    Yum! Baked pastas are my cooking skills nemesis. I so dearly love to eat baked pasta but seriously cannot making a decent tasting one and it's actually kind of embarrassing. Yours looks absolutely splended and I appreciate that you can make any revisions you need. I bet it could be vegetarian with finely cubed tofu instead of the sausage.

  2. #
    2
    Mary — December 17, 2010 at 1:34 am

    OMG! This looks like beautiful amazing cheezyness! Love this!

    Mary xo

  3. #
    3
    Tessa — December 17, 2010 at 3:59 am

    This looks great. I love how the cheese is stretched between the pieces of penne.

  4. #
    4
    Jessica — December 17, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    This looks AMAZING! I'm going to make it for my vegetarian christmas dinner and either these truffles or peppermint biscotti, still undecided. preference?

    http://www.fourgreensteps.com/community/blogs/four-green-steps/holiday-menu-the-best-vegetarian-recipes-for-your-christmas-dinner

  5. #
    5
    Mara — December 17, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    The pasta looks a little uncooked and crunchy.

  6. #
    6
    Tessa — December 17, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Jessica – Truffles all the way!

    Mara – The pasta was definitely not undercooked but the cheese on top did brown (which is my favorite).

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    7
    Honey — December 18, 2010 at 3:22 am

    This looks so great, I don't eat sausage, so I could totally make this vegetarian, YUMMY! Thanks for the recipe and such a gorgeous picture that caught my eye.

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    8
    smilinggreenmom — December 19, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    We love sausage and spinach! I cannot wait to try this! Our favorite pasta (and we eat pasta nearly every night) is Kamut Wheat pasta since it is so healthy. It is a whole grain and it always cooks up yummy plus I feel better knowing it is a whole grain with all kinds of nutrients). I cannot wait to try this – I just know we are going to love it!

  9. #
    9
    Karly — December 23, 2010 at 1:21 am

    That looks absolutely amazing!

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    10
    Fragole e Farfalle — March 16, 2011 at 8:54 am

    First time visiting. I love all your recipes, found them easy to make and I have saved a couple for later to make, maybe this weekend i'll try one. Nice blog.

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