Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cheese

Pasta with sausage

This is a recipe I saved from Cooking Light magazine years ago and it’s still one of my favorite baked pastas. I love dishes you can prepare a day ahead and bake the next day. I’ve made it with both sweet and spicy sausage and it’s great either way.

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cheese
December 2007 Cooking Light

1 (1 pound) package uncooked ziti or rigatoni
1 pound hot or sweet turkey Italian sausage links; your preference
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (14.5 ounce) cans petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

Start by removing the casings from sausage. Cook the sausage with the onion and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Stir sausage to crumble and cook until browned. Next, add tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, black pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes to let flavors meld, stirring occasionally.

Add half the mixture in the casserole dish and top with half of the cheese. Repeat. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Recipe makes 8 1-1/2 cup servings.

Brenda’s notes: This recipe can be cut in half to serve 4. If you do not have fresh basil, you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried basil or italian herb blend. Don’t like opening a can of tomato paste just to use one tablespoon? Look for tomato paste in a tube, use what you need and store in the refrigerator.

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