Baked Penne with Sausage, Ricotta, and Olives

Ah, comfort food.  Sometimes you just have to have it.  In the summer, comfort food may be a bowl of ice cream that’s just a little too big.  In the fall, warm pumpkin bread or baked apple anything will do the trick.  Come wintertime, it’s all about noodles and potatoes and baked pasta.  Apparently carbs equal comfort during the winter months.

I made this dish a little healthier by using whole-wheat penne, turkey sausage, and part-skim ricotta.  You see, I didn’t want my need for comfort to turn to guilt and remorse as soon as dinner was over.  I can never tell much of a difference with these changes, anyway.  Plus, evenings that call for a comforting dinner usually call for a little dessert, as well…

baked penne with sausage and olives

Baked Penne with Sausage, Ricotta, and Olives

adapted from www.williams-sonoma.com

printer friendly recipe

Ingredients:

1 TBSP olive oil

1 lb. spicy Italian turkey sausage, casings removed

3 c. marinara sauce

1 c. coarsely chopped pitted Kalamata olives

2 TBSP salt, plus more, to taste

freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 lb.whole-wheat penne

15 oz. part-skim ricotta cheese

1/4 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 

Directions:

1.  Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a deep 2 1/2-quart baking dish, if necessary. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.

2.  In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned. Drain any excess fat from the pan. 

3.  Stir in marinara sauce and olives, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Set aside. 

4.  Meanwhile, add 2 TBSP salt and the pasta to the boiling water.  Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the pasta is not quite al dente, two minutes less than the package instructions. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again. 

5.  Return the pasta to the cooking pot. Stir in the tomato sauce and ricotta. Spread the pasta and sauce in the prepared dish and sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake until the surface is golden and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Let cool for five minutes and serve. Serves six. 

one year ago: corny corn muffins

two years ago: baked shrimp with tomatoes and feta

three years ago: The most delicious lemon bundt cake you’ll ever eat.

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5 Comments

  1. ann
    January 26, 2011 / 11:46 am

    This looks really good like comfort food taken to the next level. I love any baked pasta.

  2. amanojaku
    January 26, 2011 / 2:26 pm

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  3. Pretend Chef
    January 26, 2011 / 2:50 pm

    I recently made a penne ricotta pasta with sausage also! So delicious and the combination of flavors is a winner. Such a comforting meal. I still have yet to make a baked pasta. You've inspired me from your "30 Things…" to take that concept and create my "Stir The Pot" list on my blog.

  4. Nicole
    February 9, 2011 / 5:52 pm

    This looks delicious! Everytime I do a baked pasta dish, the top layer of pasta comes out dry and hard to eat. Do you have any suggestions on how to avoid this? Maybe covering with aluminum foil?

  5. Kelsey
    February 11, 2011 / 4:35 am

    Nicole, my first thought is that you either don't have enough sauce or you are cooking your pasta too long. Covering the pasta can be very helpful, as well. I'd leave it covered for the first half of the baking time, then uncover it for the last half. Good luck!

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