This Italian Sausage Pasta Bake starts with rigatoni noodles in a homemade marinara sauce mixed with Italian chicken sausage, sauteed spinach and onions, and topped with lots of melted cheese. Quick, easy, and delicious!
Friends Helping Friends
Last month I was sick for over two weeks, and didn’t have the energy to do much of anything. I cut back my work schedule, but even so, work combined with keeping my children from hurting each other and destroying the house, it was all I could do to stay awake until 8PM. Fortunately, I have an amazing husband, and we have an amazing group of friends, so I had a lot of help.
A few people made us dinner, which was HUGE. I’ve written myself a giant mental note to consider making people meals more often, because those meals made life a lot more manageable those nights. A friend from work made us a delicious pasta bake. I liked it so much that I wanted to recreate something similar.
I didn’t want to ask my friend for her recipe, since I wanted to add my own spin and make sure it was truly my own.I started with rigatoni noodles that I mixed with my homemade marinara sauce. Side note about making your own marinara sauce: It has multiple benefits. It’s cheap, it’s easy, you know everything going into your sauce, and it’s delicious.
After the marinara sauce was made, I added some Italian chicken sausage, sauteed spinach, and onion. Finally, I topped it with plenty of cheese before baking it off. It turned out perfectly for my family!
Italian Sausage Pasta Bake
This recipe is easy, and quick, but after a few experimentations with it, I have some notes for you:
- You can use any noodle you want. I prefer rigatoni as I like the way it makes the casserole less dense than it is with smaller noodles.
- I have made this with Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage, which was good, but I much prefer the Italian Chicken Sausage. Ground beef or another cooked meat would also work.
- If you’re going to freeze this meal, I recommend that you prepare it up to the point of baking, then cover it with plastic wrap and aluminum foil before freezing it. I also recommended thawing it before baking it.
- Depending on the type of canned tomatoes you use, the salt needed may vary. Be sure to taste your sauce and adjust as necessary.
- You can add other vegetables or herbs to truly make this casserole your own. Experiment, have fun!
Italian Sausage Pasta Bake
- 16 ounces rigatoni noodles uncooked
- 3 tbsp olive oil divided
- 12 ounces Italian chicken sausage cut into ~1/3″ slices
- 2 cups spinach packed
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 medium onion diced
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 28 ounce can whole tomatoes
- 20 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 tbsp dried basil
- 1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh basil chopped coarsley
- 1/2 cup fresh parlsey chopped
- 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Cook rigatoni according to package instructions for al dente. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add cut chicken sausage and saute until browned, about 6 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside.
- Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to pot. Then, add spinach, lemon juice and salt. Saute until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside.
- Add remaining tbsp of olive oil to pot along with diced onion. Saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic cloves and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Next, add whole tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, dried basil, Italian seasoning, oregano, thyme, sage, and black pepper. Stir well. Simmer over low, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. During this time, use your spoon or a spatula to break whole tomatoes into smaller, bite sized pieces.
- While sauce is simmering, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Stir together the sauce, cooked rigatoni, sauteed spinach, fresh basil, and fresh parsley. Place in a 9×13 or similar sized baking dish (this recipe will take up every last bit of your dish).
- Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over all of the pasta. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
If you enjoyed this Italian Sausage Pasta Bake, you might enjoy these other SugarSpicesLife recipes:
Links to items used to make this recipe: