0 hours 15 mins
0 hours 55 mins
1 hours 10 mins
1 Lb. Rotelle, Ziti or Penne pasta
4-6 Links of Sweet Turkey Sausage
3 1/2 Cups of Marinara Sauce plus more for serving
1/2 Lb. Fresh mozzarella, half sliced and half diced
1/4 Cup shaved parmesan plus more for serving
1 Cup low fat ricotta
Fresh Basil Leaves to garnish
1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook the pasta 2 minutes less than the package directions so it is still a little firm. It will finish cooking when baked. Cook in highly salted water.
3. Meanwhile, cook the sausage in a skillet on the stove until browned on all sides a almost cooked through. Remove and cut into slices.
4. Drain the pasta well. Add to a large bowl with 3 cups of the marinara sauce and mix so all the pasta is coated in the sauce. Add the sausage and mix. Add the ricotta, the parmesan and the diced mozzarella. Mix into the pasta. Add some torn basil leaves.
5. Put 1/4 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish. Top with the pasta mixture. Dot with the remaining 1/4 cup of the sauce and add the remaining sliced mozzarella on top.
6. Cover the dish with tinfoil and bake for 25-35 minutes until totally heated through with the cheese all melted and bubbling. Uncover the dish and bake another 10 minutes until the top is lightly browned and the dish is heated through.
7. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes lightly covered with that tinfoil until it sets up. Serve large scoops of the pasta in shallow bowls or plates with fresh basil on top. Serve extra parmesan and extra warmed sauce on the side.
NOTE: When I first started cooking (a million years ago), I lived in a tiny apartment in NYC, had very little disposable income. But, I had a dozen hungry friends that hung out at my apartment ALL THE TIME! I loved having them over for big “help your self” type of meals and pasta bakes became a great way to feed a lot of people inexpensively. (In case you are wondering, there was no where to sit down…everyone hung out in the kitchen and stood around eating off their plates…I miss those days!) It is also a big favorite among New Yorkers in general. Pasta, pizza, baked ziti, chicken parmesan, meatball sandwiches…it was all part of the Italian/American make up of the neighborhoods I grew up in and this was a dish I’d make a lot. Over the years, I’ve occasionally swapped out pork sausage for turkey like I did here and sometimes use meatballs and/or pepperoni in the mix too. It is good, filling and in particular, great “guy food”.
They love it and can’t get enough! So that is probably why I’m making up trays of this for Super Bowl Sunday this year. I haven’t made a baked pasta in years…everyone is watching their carb intake all the time. So, I kind of put a lot of the classics on the back burner. But no one is counting calories or watching carbs during Super Bowl so I’ve decided this will be the main meal. Of course, I’ll serve it with my big Kitchen Sink Salad and Garlic Knots. For easy cleanup, I’ll use disposable tin foil trays and sturdy paper plates and cutlery.
In this dish, I use my own Marinara Sauce but you could use a good quality store bought sauce like Rao’s Marinara Sauce and still get great results. Ziti, penne and rotelle all work great in this dish but I found this fun pasta shape at Ralphs this week called Trottole and used it instead. Just a fun twist but use whatever you have on hand. Try this for your next big family get together…your family will thank you.
One note: This is a great make ahead dish. You can make it a day or two in advance and keep it covered in the fridge. Just bring it to room temperature (about 3o minutes) before baking and I’d give it an extra 15 minutes of bake time to get it nice and hot. Enjoy.