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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Make-Ahead Meals: Baked Penne with Sausage

There is nothing I like more than being able to, after a long day, enjoy a hot and steaming plate of home-cooked goodness, without having to lift a finger!

How is this possible, you ask?

Well, the trick is to have a few make-ahead meals prepared and stocked up in the fridge (or freezer) for those days when you know that you just won't have time to pull together a well thought-out dinner. Last week, we survived off these such dishes... and this one, in particular, fed us for 3 days (and a few snackings).

It is not the most daring, or creative meal...
No, it is simply a home-cooked family favorite, that is both easy and cheap!

Baked Penne with Sausage

(Serves 6, approximately)

1 - 14.5 oz. box Penne Rigate (I use Smart Taste brand for extra fiber and calcium.)
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
1 lb. spicy Italian Sausage, cooked and coarsely chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes, seasoned to taste
(I prefer fresh, but canned are convenient and cheap to have on hand...)
6 to 8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
(Again, I prefer fresh, broken up into bite size chunks, but a bag of shredded is cheaper...)

First, cook up the pasta to al dente in a big pot of boiling (salted) water.
Drain, rinse and set aside.

In the mean time, saute your onions and peppers in a bit of olive oil until the onions begin to soften and turn translucent. Remove from heat.

Next, season the crushed tomatoes to your personal tastes... I throw in a ton of oregano, basil, thyme and some cayenne for a little extra kick. Add the onions, peppers and sausage and then stir in the cooked pasta until the sauce has evenly coated the noodles.
Transfer to a large casserole dish and top with shredded mozzarella.

At this point, you can cover the casserole dish with foil and store it in the fridge, or freezer, for later use...


Bake at 375 degrees until the cheese melts and begins to bubble and brown around the edges (approximately 30 minutes).

Serve with a side of garlic sauteed green beans and garlic bread. Enjoy!

Per serving: approximately 500 calories, 12 g fiber and 35 g protein. Also high in calcium and Vitamin C.



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