This cheesy baked penne is filled with hearty sausage, creamy ricotta and a tangy red wine tomato sauce.
Admittedly, it has been a pretty mild fall so far here in Michigan but I’m no dummy. The chill is definitely in the air and winter is coming… but I’m totally ready to hunker down, get cozy and embrace all things hibernation.
Of course, when it comes time to hibernate that means it’s time to trade in the lighter meals for something a bit more stick-to-your-ribs. A lighter version of the comfort food classic, this cheesy Baked Penne with Sausage and Ricotta is made with whole wheat pasta, part-skim mozzarella and turkey Italian sausage.
Ricotta cheese adds a light, almost airy quality to the dish that doesn’t make you feel completely weighed down after eating this cozy pasta dish. With over 24 grams of protein per serving, this is comfort food you can feel good about eating from time to time.
What are your favorite cold-weather dishes? Anything you’d like to see lightened up? I’m all ears!
Your fork is waiting.
Baked Penne with Sausage and Ricotta
- 1 pound whole wheat penne (cooked according to package instructions)
- 1 pound turkey sausage (removed from casings)
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon salt (divided)
- ½ teaspoon pepper (divided)
- 2 cloves garlic (grated – divided)
- ½ cup red wine
- 32 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon chili flakes
- 2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 ½ cups shredded part-skim mozzarella
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9″ x 13″ baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add sausage begin to break down with a wooden spoon into bite-sized pieces. Cook sausage until browned, about 8-9 minutes.
- While sausage is browning, add one of the grated garlic cloves and half of the salt (1/2 teaspoon) and pepper (1/4 teaspoon) to the ricotta container. Stir well. (Alternatively: you can combine in a small bowl but I prefer to mix in the container so I don’t have to dirty another dish.) ; Set aside.
- Add mushrooms to the pan along with half of the salt (1/2 teaspoon) and half of the pepper (1/4 teaspoon) and stir until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add garlic to the pan and cook for 30 seconds to release flavors then pour red wine and deglaze pan with the wooden spoon.
- Stir in crushed tomatoes, oregano and chili flakes. Bring to a boil then remove from heat, stirring well.
- Add cooked pasta to the tomato sausage sauce and stir until combined and evenly coated.
- Start layering your baked penne by adding half of the pasta and sausage mixture to the bottom of baking pan.
- Using a large spoon, dollop half of the ricotta mixture on top of the first layer of pasta. Next, top with 1/2 cup of the cheese.
- Repeat layer by adding the remaining pasta, ricotta and cheese.
- Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 45 minutes.
- Serve with grated parmesan cheese if you wish.
Disclosure: I am honored to be a Dairy Ambassador for Milk Means More. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Lemon Bowl possible. All thoughts are my own.
For more easy dinner ideas, check out my Healthy Entrees board!