6.12.2017

{Recipe} Baked Pasta with Sausage & Spinach

You know what's really good? Carbs. I love carbs. I love all things filled with carbs...my pant size is evident of this. But you know what? I don't care. A world without carbs is a world I'm just not interested in, OK? I'd rather be a few sizes larger & enjoy food, than be a size 2 & live off of lettuce. You know what else I'm not interested in? Wheat noodles. Yes, I'll use them from time to time, but in general, I'd just rather eat something else. There are many healthy alternatives to foods I enjoy & I will often supplement those foods but wheat noodles just have a taste & texture to them that reminds me of non fully cooked white noodles.
So, with those important facts laid out,  say hello to my new favorite pasta bake. You look at these pictures & tell me you don't want a forkful! This recipe actually came from Skinnytaste but I'm not going to pretend it's healthy. Either way, who cares...it was GOOD. For my vegetarian friends, this recipe can easily be made without the turkey sausage that I used!

ABOUT:
Serves: 6-8
Cook time: 50 - 60 mins
How difficult was this for me? Not too bad!

INGREDIENTS:
Olive oil cooking spray
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
8 oz fat free ricotta cheese
8 oz part-skim mozzarella, shredded
14 oz uncooked sweet Italian turkey or chicken sausage (I used turkey), removed from casing
12 oz rigatoni pasta
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained
4 cups Marinara sauce of your choosing
Salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 375 F. 

Spray 9x13 in baking dish with olive oil spray.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil & cook noodles according to directions but undercook them 4 mins less since they will be baking in the oven as well. Drain & return to pot.

While noodles are cooking, in a medium bowl combine the ricotta, 6 tbsp of the Pecorino Romano cheese & half the mozzarella cheese. Set aside.
In a large skillet, brown the sausage - breaking up into small bits until cooked through, set aside.
Without draining skillet, add olive oil to skillet & sauté garlic for a minute over medium heat, being careful not to burn

Add spinach & season a little salt & pepper.  Cook for another minute.
Return sausage to the skillet & add the marina sauce.  Cook on low for 3-4 minutes.
Place half the cooked pasta in the prepared baking dish & top with half the meat sauce.  
Spoon ricotta mixture on top of the meat sauce layer.  I used a spatula to spread it around, but it was tough!
Cover with remaining pasta, then sauce & then ricotta mix.  Add remaining mozzarella & Pecorino to the top.
Cover with foil & bake for 20 mins.  Because my baking dish was so full, I sprayed cooking spray on the tinfoil side that was face down to prevent the cheese from melting to the foil.
Remove from heat & serve!