Monday, February 14, 2011

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

You might think chicken sausage doesn't sound very good, but it really is! I've made up my own pasta recipe with it in the past, but this one was really yummy. This came from, which is also where I got the picture. The only thing I didn't like about this recipe is that it has you put the spinach in the boiling pasta water, but when you drain off the water you lose a lot of nutrients. Next time I will probably try cooking it in the sauce instead. This makes a heaping 9x13 pan full. It would be good to split between two 8x8 pans and freeze one, or share with a neighbor who just had a baby or something.

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup heavy cream (you could leave this out and it would still be good, but I liked it creamy)
1 pound rigatoni (I used whold grain penne, which was great!)
9 ounces fresh spinach (can use frozen spinach, thawed and drained well, but I can't stand frozen spinach)
12 ounces precooked smoked chicken (or turkey) sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I got mine at Albertsons. I've seen them at a lot of grocery stores. They are by the hotdogs.)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, 4 ounces cut into 1/2-inch cubes and 4 ounces shredded
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Cook for another minute.
2. Stir in tomatoes, oregano and basil; simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add cream; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. (If using fresh spinach, add it to the pot of boiling pasta right at the end and cook until wilted.) Drain, and return contents to pot.
3. Add tomato sauce, sausage, spinach and cubed mozzarella to the pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop pasta into lightly greased 9X13-inch pan (or divide evenly between two 8X8-inch pans). Top with grated mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

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