This is my adaptation of a recipe in a Liquor Control Board of Ontario magazine. I usually serve it with Caesar salad & garlic bread and its always been given "2 thumbs up" by my friends & family. You can increase the heat by using hot sausages & adding more cumin - or cayenne or red pepper flakes - according to your own taste! Please note that the starch in the pasta cooking liquid will thicken the sauce when the casserole is baking!
- 1 lb Italian sausage (hot or sweet)
- 1⁄8 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cumin
- 1 red pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 green pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
- 1 (700 ml) jar tomato sauce
- 1⁄2 cup dry red wine
- 1⁄4 cup chopped basil
- 3 cups penne
- 1⁄2 cup of pasta cooking water
- 3⁄4 lb mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1⁄2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Prick sausages in several places.
- Heat oil in a large, deep frying pan set over medium high heat.
- Add sausages& cook until evenly browned- about 8 minutes.
- Remove from pan& cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
- Add onions to fat remaining in pan& saute for about 5 minutes.
- Return sausages to pan.
- Add fennel, garlic, cumin, peppers& celery; cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Drain excess fat from pan.
- Stir tomato sauce, basil& wine into sausage mixture.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat& simmer for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook penne, according to package directions until el dente (about 10 minutes).
- Drain- reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
- Combine sausage mixture, pasta & reserved cooking liquid in a 5 litre casserole dish.
- Mix well.
- Combine Mozarella& Parmesan cheese and parsley.
- Stir into the pasta mixture.
- Bake in preheated 375F oven for 30 minutes.
I have made this many times and my co-workers eat it like it is their last meal. Easy to put together and the taste is great!! Taste even better if made the day before and popped in the oven to finish baking for a fast supper.
A great tasting, colourful dish. I used canned tomatoes instead of tomato sauce so I didn't need to add any extra water but other than that I followed the recipe exactly. Loved the fennel and cumin, which are two things I would not normally add to pasta. For wine, I used a medium-bodied Chilean red. My one little quibble is that the pasta got a bit overcooked by the end (I'd boiled it for 9 minutes) so next time I'd try chopping a couple minutes off the boiling time to make sure it retains a firm texture.
This is a very filling and very delicious casserole. It went together easily and I enjoyed the different way of cooking the whole sausage first and then cutting it into pieces. My standard way is to take off the skin, crumble it up and then saute it with the onions, garlic, etc. I think I like this way better. I followed the recipe to the letter, so I was surprised to find that the finished sauce was pretty thin. I stirred in half a can of tomato paste which helped. So, when combining all the ingredients, I did not add any pasta water. It's a good basic recipe to prepare ahead and have a hearty meal to serve to friends and family. My freezer is happily holding a pan of leftovers for another wonderful meal.