This wonderful hearty, make ahead casserole really hits the spot. full of flavor, easy to make (and freeze) for those hectic or lazy days ahead.
- 1 1⁄2 lbs Italian sausage (mild or hot)
- olive oil (optional)
- 2 onions, coarsely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large sweet red pepper, coarsely chopped
- 28 ounces meatless extra chunky pasta sauce
- 213 ml can tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 5 cups penne pasta
- 1 (284 g) package fresh spinach (trimmed and coarsely chopped)
- 3 cups shredded provolone cheese or 3 cups mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated asiago cheese or 1 cup parmesan cheese
- Cut sausage into 1/2 inch chunks. I large skillet, brown sausage over medium-high heat, in batches and adding oil if necessary. Transfer sausage to a bowl.
- Pour off any fat from pan. Add onions, garlic and red pepper, cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in pasta sauce, tomato sauce, basil, oregano and fennel seeds; bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pan. Return sausage and any accumulated juices to pan; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until sausage is firm throughout.
- Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta for 6 minutes, add spinach;cook for 1 minute. Drain well and return to pot. Add sausage mixture and provolone/mozzarella cheese; stir to combine well.
- Transfer to 2 greased 8-inch square baking dishes or 1 13x9-inch dish. Sprinkle with Asiago/parmesan cheese. Cover dish with greased foil, greased side down.
- To serve: Bake, covered with foil, in in 375 degree F. oven for 30 minutes or for 1 hour if from the refrigerator. This freezes beautifully (thaw in refrigerator before baking).
Great weeknight meal and makes enough to have as leftovers later in the week. :)
Exceptionally tasty casserole and a big plus being it can be frozen. I omit the fennel because we do not like it and doubt if it deters from the final result. Can see this being put in the freezer often for drop in company. Thanks because it will be very useful seeing we have out of town company coming and they are pasta lovers.