Baked Penne with Italian Sausage and Sweet Peppers

Source: 400 Best Comfort Food Recipes by Johanna Burkhard

Vegetarian Version: Omit the sausages

penneThis is one yummy dish.  I loved the taste of the hot and mild sausage mix. This makes six servings and freezes and thaws well.

Use a 13-by-9 baking dish, lightly greased.

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
12 oz hot or mild Italian sausages
3 bell peppers (assorted colours)*
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes or to taste
1 can (28 oz) plum tomatoes, including juice, chopped
1/4 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (optional)**
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
12 oz. penne or other small tube-shaped pasta
1.5 cups grated Fontina or mozzarella cheese (I used mozz)
1/3 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese (I used Parm)

*I used 2 bell peppers and a zucchini
**I didn’t use

Variation: Add 1/3 cup (75mL) small black olives to the sauce along with parsley for an added dimension of flavour.

DIRECTIONS
Prick skins of sausages with a fork.  In large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium heat; cook sausages for 5 minutes or until browned on all sides.  (Sausages will not be cooked through).  Remove from pan, cut into slices and reserve.

Add remaining oil to pan.  Add peppers, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, salt and hot pepper flakes; cook, stirring often, for 7 minutes or until softened.

Return sausage slices to pan along with canned tomatoes with juice and sun-dried tomatoes, if using.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.  Stir in parsley.  Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot until tender but firm.  Drain well.  Place half of the cooked pasta in prepared baking dish.  Pour in half of the sauce.  Layer again with remaining pasta and top with remaining sauce.

In a bowl, combine Fontina and Romano cheeses; sprinkle over top of casserole.  Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly coloured.

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