Pasta is the definite go-to at our house for a quick meal straight from the pantry with a flavorful addition like pesto or slow roasted tomatoes. A generous splash of olive oil and a few fat garlic cloves are key to a perfect meal. If it weren’t for my occasional moments of carbohydrate-induced guilt, I think I would be content with a bowl of pasta nearly every night of the week. With its infinite shapes and adaptability, pasta can be easily transformed into a completely different dish with minimal effort.
Even though pasta takes little time to throw together, it is not always ideal for a crowd because of the risk of losing that essential al dente bite. I baked sausage kale pasta in a casserole that I served by the heaping scoopful. The pasta had a little kick thanks to spicy Italian chicken sausage. Rather than overdoing it with gooey cheese, I used part skim ricotta and finished it with grated Parmesan. The end result was an appealing crusty top layer that contrasted with the tomato ricotta filling.
1 pound penne pasta
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, casings removed (I used chicken sausage.)
1 white onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
1-15 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup part skim ricotta
2 ounces Parmesan, grated
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bring salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Cook the penne until just al dente according to package instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté the sausage until it is browned breaking it up with a spatula. Transfer the sausage using a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate.
Heat the remaining olive oil in the skillet. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions have softened, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, kale and beans and simmer until the kale has wilted, about 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl combine the pasta, sausage and tomato kale bean mixture. Fold in the ricotta and transfer to a 13×9-inch ceramic or glass baking dish. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan. Bake for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned.