I spend a lot of my time thinking about food. Probably too much time. I consider the ingredients in my house, the ingredients I might need and the time frames I have to make some magic happen in the kitchen. Some days I'm overly ambitious and some days just don't care what plans you make---they just refuse to cooperate. In my own refusal to fold to cheap take out on such days I end up with some pasta and a jarred sauce that I might spruce up a bit and call it a day--and those days make me sad. This dish isn't sad, takes minimal effort and can be made in advance, frozen and popped in the oven for a fraction of the cost and calories of pre-made meals and take out.
Inspired by Italian classics baked ziti and traditional lasagna, this dish really does come together in less than 15 minutes before being thrown into the oven to finish off (hello, shower time, laundry time or a guiltless dvr session of last night's New Girl). Make it for game day, family dinner or just a cold and dreary Tuesday-- and pack the leftovers for lunch.
Baked Rotini with Sausage
serves 6 to 8
What you need:
- 1/2 lb Italian sausage (I used the leftover links from this recipe. But sweet, mild, hot..you pick!)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
- 2-3 roma tomatoes, chopped
- 6oz tomato paste
- 28oz crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 lb Rotini (or other short cut pasta like penne or ziti)
- ~7oz shredded mozzerella cheese
- ~1 cup grated parmesean cheese
- ~ 1/4 cup loosely packed basil, thinly chopped
- ~ 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- Cook 1 lb Rotini (the spirals) pasta according to the directions. (*I like the spirals for this to catch the crumbles of sausage and chunky pieces of tomato in the sauce*)
- In a deep skillet, heat the oil over medium, high heat. Remove the sausage from the casings and brown in the pan, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and cook about 4 minutes until the onion starts to soften. Add in the garlic and cook an additional minute or so.
- Add in the tomatoes and cook about 2 minutes until those start to soften. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato paste and heat for a minute until fragrant, then pour in the tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Make sure you stir really well to get all the tomato goodness combined.
- Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the basil.
- Grab a casserole dish (I used a 9x11 size) and add about half of the pasta. Layer on half of the sauce and sausage mixture. Evenly add half of both the mozzerella and parmesean cheese. Repeat the process layering again the noodles, sauce then cheese. **YOU CAN STOP HERE AND FREEZE THIS BABY FOR WHENEVER YOU WANT!!
- Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees until the top starts to get brown and bubbly with melted cheese.
- Try not to eat the whole dish in one sitting..or burn your mouth because you can't wait to dig into that melted cheese...