I’ve been making this dish since I found it in Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food a few years ago. I make it often for special people in my life! I’ve cleaned it up by replacing the heavy cream in the sauce with fat free half & half – it tastes just as scrumptious. Buon appetito!!!!
Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage
– 16 oz rigatoni (whole grain or wheat)
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 medium red onion, chopped
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1/4 cup vodka (optional)
–1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes with juice, lightly crushed with hands
-1/2 tsp dried oregano
–1/2 cup fat free half & half
-10 ounces baby spinach
-12 ounces chicken sausage, halved lengthwise & sliced 1/4 inch thick (I use apple chicken sausage)
-6 ounces fontina cheese (4 ounces cut into 1/2 inch cubes and 2 ounces coarsely grated)
-1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1. Boil a large pot of salted water. Once boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Add spinach, cooking just until wilted. Drain and return contents to pot.
2. While water is coming to a boil, heat oil is a separate skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion, cooking until translucent (approximately 3 minutes). Stir in garlic. Remove skillet from heat, stir in vodka, and return to heat, cooking until almost evaporated (about 1 minute).
3. Stir in tomatoes and oregano, cooking for 10-15 minutes, until tomatoes are falling apart. Add half & half and cook until warmed through (5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add tomato sauce, sausage, and the cubed cheese to the large pot with the pasta. Toss with a large spoon to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Divide into baking dishes (I use one 9 x 13 and one 8-inch square). Top with remaining shredded cheese and parmesan. Bake at 400 degrees until browned and crisp (20-30 minutes).
**To freeze–prepare dish (except the extra cheese on top) and let it cool. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze. To bake, do not thaw. Remove from freezer, take off plastic wrap, cover with foil, and bake at 400F for 1 1/2-1 3/4 hours. Remove foil, top with additional cheese, and bake for 20-30 more minutes. It truly tastes just as delicious from frozen!!