Another occasion was marked when my blog turned 1 year old in early December! I’ve had such fun corresponding with so many readers, and, of course, cooking so many new things this past year! Thank you to everyone who reads, and all the food bloggers out there for all the inspiration!
So, I’m not the best at coming back with a bang…Usually when I take long breaks from cooking I have to ease back into it. There are times when I crave being back in the kitchen, but I most often have to start with what I know. I make easy meals that have become part of our regular rotation: meatloaf, steaks, pizza, pasta, quesadillas, etc. So, I offer you this simple baked penne. Not exactly helpful if your New Year’s resolution is to eat healthier foods, but for a housewarming gift, this really hit the spot.
Baked Penne with Sausage and Ricotta
¾ lb penne, ziti or other pasta
1 jar tomato & basil pasta sauce, or homemade sauce
8 oz ricotta cheese
¼ tsp hot pepper flakes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4-5 large button mushrooms, sliced
3 hot Italian pork (or turkey) sausages, casings removed
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella
½ cup grated parmesan
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt the water and cook the pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the jarred sauce, ricotta cheese, hot pepper flakes and ½ the parmesan cheese.
In a large skillet, sauté the onions and green peppers in the olive oil until softened. Remove to a plate. Add a touch more olive oil, if desired and sauté the mushrooms until done to your liking. Remove these from the skillet. Add the sausage and break apart with a spatula. Sauté about 7-8 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to absorb the grease.
Add the onions, bell pepper, mushrooms and sausage to the bowl with the tomato sauce and ricotta cheese. Combine well. Toss the pasta into this mixture and spread half of it in a 2 quart baking dish. Top with half the mozzarella. Spread the remaining pasta in the dish and top with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Bake for 25 minutes until bubbly and browned on top!