Baked Penne with Sausage & Creamy Ricotta

Baked Penne with Sausage & Creamy Ricotta

Now that the crisp and cool temps are here, the idea of comfort foods are what I crave. A popular comfort food to many is pasta and rightfully so. Pasta is one of those dishes that seems to hit the spot, leaving you with a satisfying carb coma. This Baked Penne with Sausage & Creamy Ricotta did exactly that. It was deliciously filling with pockets of creamy ricotta cheese, bites of Italian sausage, all blended with penne in a homemade tomato sauce.

Ingredients

  • Now that the crisp and cool temps are here, the idea of comfort foods are what I crave. A popular comfort food to many is pasta and rightfully so. Pasta is one of those dishes that seems to hit the spot, leaving you with a satisfying carb coma. This Baked Penne with Sausage & Creamy Ricotta did exactly that. It was deliciously filling with pockets of creamy ricotta cheese, bites of Italian sausage, all blended with penne in a homemade tomato sauce. 
  • When I switched to a gluten free lifestyle less than a month ago, I thought my pasta days were over. I knew there were alternatives out there, such as pasta made from rice, quinoa and other non-gluten ingredients. I was just so skeptical because it wasn't wheat or semolina based pasta... and I wasn't sure that I would even like gluten free pasta. Well, I finally gave gluten free pasta a try and wow... I'm a fan. I specifically used brown rice pasta for this dish but of course, you're welcome to use regular or whole wheat penne. In fact, you can use any short pasta for this dish including farfalle, macaroni, ziti, shells, etc.
  • The best part of the dish is the ricotta and sausage. It really elevated the dish above the usual baked pasta casserole. The recipe makes a full 9x13 pan but I ended up making 2 smaller baking dishes of this recipe; one we ate and one we froze for later. To freeze, prepare the recipe
  • Baked Penne with Sausage & Creamy Ricotta
  • recipe adapted from Food & Wine
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound hot or sweet Italian fennel sausage, casings removed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne (I used gluten free brown rice penne)
  • 3 cups ricotta
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Read the whole recipe on What's Cookin', Chicago?