Whether it’s a good day, bad day, cold and dreary, or warm and sunny, pasta always hits the spot. Always. And this creamy, cheesy, pasta bake – loaded up with zesty Italian sausage, bright sun dried tomatoes, and fresh spinach – is a perennial favorite in our household. We love how this multi-purpose meal is perfect for busy weeknights, as well as special weekend gatherings. Penne noodles are particularly good in this dish because the silky sauce has so much surface to cling to, but feel free to use your favorite pasta – we’ve never met a noodle we didn’t like! No matter how you fine-tune it, we bet your family will devour this comforting meal in no time…. Ours sure does!
Italian Sausage Penne Bake
1 hour to prepare serves 6-8
- 1 (1 lb) package penne pasta
- 1 lb Italian sausage, cooked and drained of fat
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach
- 2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 small bell pepper, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Cook pasta according to package directions or until al dente. Remove pot from heat, drain pasta, and transfer back to pot. Stir in fresh spinach and cover with lid, allowing the steam to wilt the greens. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet, and add red pepper flakes, garlic, onion and green pepper. Cook for 7-8 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
- Add butter, oregano, salt and pepper, and stir until butter is melted. Whisk in flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, then stir in milk. Whisking frequently, cook until sauce has thickened, 5-10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in parmesan, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, sundried tomatoes, and sausage.
- Pour sauce over pasta and gently toss to combine. Pour mixture into casserole dish. Top with remaining cup of mozzarella and bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.
- Serve warm and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Back To Her Roots