Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage is a winter classic and totally checks all the comfort food boxes—creamy, cheesy and full of noodles, and just a tiny bit spicy. In other words, perfect.
It’s full-on sweater weather in my neck of the woods and baked pasta has been on my mind all week.
There’s nothing that feels better on a cold day than a good baked pasta, and this one is a stunner, if I do say so myself.
The main ingredients are:
- Chicken sausage – found in bulk or in casings
- Tomato sauce – thick, chunky, quick and super delicious
- Cheese – for the melt factor, and a nutty Harvarti fits the bill perfectly
- Chicken Sausage – in bulk or casings, a lighter tasting switch from pork sausage
- Pasta- we use old reliable penne pasta here, the wider the better to hold the delicious sauce
HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
Please note: this noodle casserole does not require any special skills to prepare 🙂
You might have some of these ingredients in your pantry right now for that matter, which would be awesome.
The key steps are:
- Make the sauce: This comes together quickly! Chop the onions and garlic, brown the sausage and carefully crush the whole Italian tomatoes with your hand as you pour them in the saucepan. Add seasonings and let this gently simmer.
- Boil the pasta: Use the directions on the package, but pull the pasta out of the water a full minute before it’s done – it’ll continue to cook in the oven.
- Mix to combine: Gently combine the the sauce and pasta together before placing in an ovenproof casserole dish.
- Bake: The baked pasta is ready when the cheese is melty and everything is heated through.
While the pasta bakes, you’ll have time to make a little salad and pick out a movie on Netflix 🙂
A WORD ABOUT CANNED TOMATOES
There is no doubt in my mind that crushing tomatoes whole from the can is far superior in flavor and texture than buying the tomatoes already crushed.
You can crush the whole tomatoes by emptying them in a medium bowl, or by very carefully doing so straight from the can while you pour them in the saucepan. We don’t want perfection! We want a rustic, chunky sauce.
We add another can of diced tomatoes in their juice to the mixture, as insurance for extra sauciness and flavor.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR BAKED PASTA WITH CHICKEN SAUSAGE
- Make the pasta a day ahead if you’d like, and keep it covered in the fridge until ready to use.
- I always place pasta dishes like this on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper before placing in the oven. Easier to grab.
- Ground turkey or pork sausage instead of chicken sausage is totally fine.
- Use Monterey Jack cheese instead of Havarti if you can’t find it, but it’s worth seeking out for its amazing nutty flavor and extra melty consistency.
- For serving, I like to add another little drizzle of some good quality, fruity olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese right off the block.
Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage is comfort food in all its glory, and nothing in the world is better than a bowl of it while sitting by the fire (near the TV.)
This recipe is fun to serve your friends for a casual movie night with a simple salad of butter lettuce and vinaigrette, and maybe some really good, toasty slivers of hot garlic bread.
For dessert, make some brownies or this Butterscotch Shortbread Dipped in Chocolate.
If you don’t feel like having company, you can hide under a soft blanket with a big for yourself, and just revel in the saucy, cheesy, warm, carby goodness of it all. Enjoy!
More Recipes to Try:
Thanks for sharing this recipe! #studiodeliciouseats
BAKED PASTA WITH CHICKEN SAUSAGE
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken sausage, uncooked, casings removed if any
- 1 28- ounce Italian style tomatoes, whole, peeled
- 1 15 ounce tomatoes, diced in their juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons Italian (flat leaf) parsley, chopped
- 2 bay leaf
- 1 pound penne pasta, dried
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
- 8 ounces Havarti cheese, grated
- MAKE THE SAUCE
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil a dutch oven or large non-stick sauce pan, and add the onions with the salt and cook on medium heat stirring occasionally until onions are soft, 5-8 minutes
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring to make sure the garlic doesn't get brown
- Add the chicken sausage, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon until no longer pink, about 4 minutes
- Add the whole peeled tomatoes, gently and carefully crushing the tomatoes with your fingers as you add them to the pan, then add the diced tomatoes and the water, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and one tablespoon of the chopped fresh parsley as well as the bay leafs.
- Simmer on medium heat on the stove for 30 minutes, remove bay leafs.
- Prepare the pasta according to the package directions on the box, salting the water with a tablespoon of salt before adding the pasta.Remove the pasta from the water a minute before the final cooking time, as you'll want the pasta to be a little bit firm before before baking.
- MAKE AND BAKE THE PASTA
- Heat oven to 350 degrees
- Drain the cooked pasta from the water, then add it back to the pot you cooked it on. Add the chicken sausage mixture, the ricotta cheese, the Parmesan cheese, and another tablespoon of chopped parsley.
- Mix gently to combine everything, then and add to a large casserole dish that you've added a drizzle of olive oil to the bottom of. Casserole dish is 9x13" size.
- Sprinkle the top with Havarti cheese and another tablespoon of Parmesan cheese and the remaining tablespoon of fresh parsley.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until the cheese melts and everything is heated through.
- Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and Parmesan cheese for serving.
- I drizzle the plated baked pasta with a bit more olive oil, it adds a certain deliciousness you'll completely understand once you taste it.
- You can find Chicken Sausage in a package or tube like ground beef or turkey, or in casings - just remove the casings but cutting with a knife and you're good to go.
- If you don't want or can't find Harvarti Cheese, just use Monterey Jack.
- This recipe can be made a day ahead, keep covered and refrigerated.
- Super important to read the whole recipe before you begin
- Pay attention to the ingredient list and photos for the recipe
- If possible, prep your ingredients a little before you start
- Always use a sharp knife for safety
- Use the size of pan called for in the recipe
- For savory recipes, taste and season as you go
- Buy fresh, organic ingredients, locally sourced whenever possible