I love an easy Pasta Bake. They aren’t fancy or complicated, but they can taste really good. It’s an easy weeknight meal that can either feed a family of 6 or be dinner, lunch, and dinner again for 2. There are not many other types of dishes that really pull that off.
For this Pasta Bake, I was aiming for a little spicier than my usual pasta sauce. I found this new pasta sauce at Whole Food (which was on sale, thank you Amazon Prime discounts). What caught my eye was that one of the ingredients was Calabrian Chili. I haven’t used those before, but I thought it could be an interesting way to mix up the flavors. When we cracked open the jar, we gave the sauce a quick taste test. It had a bit more heat than my normal Rao’s go-to, but it was by most standards pretty mild (even by Rob’s tastes). So, we added red pepper flake to get the desired heat. One thing we did like about this sauce was the consistency. It was well blended and smooth, sometimes chunky tomato sauces can be a bit off-putting so that worked great for us.
So like my normal bolognese sauce, I started with Italian Sausage. I went with the normal mild stuff, that way I could better control the spiciness. Next, time around I may try starting with a hot version to really bring the kick. Rob also wanted to add some sun-dried tomato for a good flavor depth. He has been on a real sun-dried tomato kick recently, which is funny because he can’t stand a big chunk of tomato in most dished.
Easy Pasta Bake
- 1 Lb Shell Pasta
- 1.25 Lb Italian Sausage
- 16 Oz Jarred Tomato Sauce
- 3-4 Garlic Cloves minced
- 3-4 Jarred Sun-Dried Tomatoes finely diced
- 1/2 Tsp Red Pepper Flake split in half
- 1/4 Tsp Oregano
- 1/4 Tsp Thyme
- 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1/2 Cup Shredded Italian Cheese Blend or mix of parmesan/asiago/mozzarella/etc
- Parsley to top
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Cook the pasta in salted water, undercook by 1-2 minutes. Start the pasta after you have cooked the meat.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat (6-7 of 10). Add the sausage, breaking it up into small chunks. Cook pretty close to all the way through, about 6-7 minutes.
- Add the garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, half the red pepper flake, and herbs to the meat. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Add the jarred tomato sauce, reduce heat to high low (2-3 of 10) and allow to simmer for 8-10 minutes.
- Stir in the cream and remainder of the red pepper flake, simmer for another minute.
- Combine the sauce and pasta in a casserole or baking dish and mix well. Top with the cheese and bake for 10 minutes.