Ever feel like a lasagna, but not all the time it takes. Or really, just how “warm” it feels. I could just be a weirdo here, but to me, lasagna is for cold winter nights, when it’s snowy outside and the last thing you want to do is open a door and let any of it in. This kinda sucks because I love lasagna, and I’ve banished it to only be an option for half of the year (yes, half the year, we live in Canada and it was still snowing two weeks ago here).
So, I made a work-around (because my mind works in mysterious ways, and it is surprisingly easy for me to “trick” myself). Thus was born baked penne, lasagna style. Because that’s totally reasonable to eat whenever you want.
We’re using canned sauce, and just quickly frying up some sausage meat with garlic for a little extra flavour. Tossed into a pan with the pasta, swirled with ricotta, then topped with mozzarella and you’re done. All the flavour – none of the fuss.
- ½ pound penne pasta
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 4 italian sausages
- 1 can of your favorite pasta sauce (we're a Ragu family)
- ¾ cup water
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 1½ cups ricotta cheese (I used creamy style)
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- Preheat your oven to 400ºF with a rack in the middle position.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne, and cook until just before al-dente (check your package directions, and cook for 1-2 minutes less. It will continue to cook while baking). When done, drain in a colander, and toss with 2 tbsp olive oil to prevent sticking. Pour into a large casserole dish.
- While the pasta is boiling, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the crushed garlic and let simmer over a low heat for about 1 minute, until just starting to show the slightest colour.
- Squeeze the sausage meat out of the casing and into the pan. Cook over medium heat, breaking up the meat up with a spatula to crumble. Cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Add the sauce, bring up to a simmer, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the water (this is to help the sauce from thickening up too much in the oven).
- Pour the sauce over the pasta in the casserole dish. Toss well to ensure all the pasta has been well coated. Dollop the ricotta over the top of the pasta in heaping tablespoons. Use a spoon or spatula to slightly swirl the ricotta into the pasta. It's ok (good!) to leave big pockets of ricotta in some spots.
- Sprinkle on the parmesan cheese, then top with the shredded mozzarella.
- Bake the pasta for about 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is nice and golden on top. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
This recipe feeds our family or two adults, two kids, and a baby with some leftovers. The image shows the amount made when the recipe is doubled. If feeding a lot of adults, you may want to double it.