This comfort food classic is a dish we just can’t get enough of.
A baked pasta dish is classic comfort food. We already know how comforting pasta and sauce is to everyone, but when it’s baked in the oven with tons of cheese, the comfort level goes up and the stresses of our day go down. We can rest easy when we know that a deliciously simple meal like this waiting for us at the end of the day. A pasta bake is a great way to meal prep; a dish like this can be made on the weekend and either eaten right away or tucked away in the freezer to make a grand appearance later in the week. Our cream cheese sausage pasta bake is an amazing meal that we think is just as good as a weeknight family supper as it is for a dinner party.
The sauce is the true star of the show here and by adding heavy cream and cream cheese to the tomato-based sauce, we’re making something truly special. A package of ground mild Italian sausage is a great way to bring amazing flavor into a pasta sauce, and we really love what it does to make this pasta bake so outstanding. Of course, we add some flair the sauce with ingredients like fresh minced garlic, a little red pepper flake for just a little bit of heat, and what pasta dish is complete without some fresh basil leaves added into the mix. The next ingredients will turn the sauce into a luxurious creamy coating for all those noodles: cream cheese and heavy cream. Need we say more? These melt into the tomato and sausage sauce, adding an irresistibly rich creaminess that is just too-too good.
Everything else is pretty simple: the noodles go into a prepared casserole dish, get tossed with the creamy pasta sauce, and then we add even more cheese on top just for good measure. Our casserole dish goes into the oven and in a matter of minutes, we’ve got a meal that is hearty, creamy, warm, comforting and delicious. Good food like this is something that the whole family gets to enjoy, and we love that it doesn’t take a ton of time to whip up a meal that is as hearty as it is comforting. A cream cheese and sausage pasta bake is one of those truly special dishes that we love coming back to because it is just so good!
Cream Cheese and Sausage Pasta Bake
Serves 4-6; 40 minutes
- 12 oz tubular pasta, like penne, ziti, or rigatoni
- 1 lb ground mild Italian sausage
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 1 (24 oz) jar tomato-basil pasta sauce
- 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes with juices
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook sausage until browned.
- Pour pasta sauce and diced tomatoes with juices into skillet. Stir to deglaze the pan. Add garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, if using.
- Add heavy cream and cream cheese and stir until melted into the sauce. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low.
- Transfer cooked pasta to prepared baking dish. Top with ½ of the mozzarella cheese. Pour sauce over top and stir gently until noodles are evenly coated. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
- Sprinkle ½ of the basil leaves then bake for 20 minutes or until cheese begins to bubble.
- Remove from oven to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Garnish with remaining basil leaves.
Recipe adapted from Lil' Luna.