I LOVE baked pasta, and the way everything just melds together in the oven. Does it get much better than a classic baked ziti? I think not. I also love that classic Italian American staple; the sausage, pepper and onion sandwich. So, it stands to reason that combining the two ideas would be amazing, right? Right! This sausage, pepper and onion pasta bake was a crowd pleaser for sure, and I do mean a crowd. This recipe easily served 8.
Oh my goodness, when the sausage, pepper and onion pasta bake finished baking I was so happy! The smell alone was incredible. Then I bit into it and there were so many textures and flavors happening in my mouth. The tender pasta was such a wonderful canvas for the savory sausage filling and crunchy breadcrumb topping. My Italian heart was really pleased. Buon Appetito!
- 1 dash olive oil for browning
- 6 links garlic sausage casings removed
- 2 whole red bell peppers seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 whole onion peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper
- 1 pinch dried basil leaves
- 1 pinch dried parsley leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 pound short dry pasta like medium shells, penne or ziti
- 1 package shredded mozzarella (8 oz bag)
- 1 1/2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
- Take a large skillet and heat the olive oil in it over medium high heat. Brown the sausage completely in it while you break it up with a spoon, about 6-8 minutes. Remove it from the pan onto a plate and set it aside. Pour in a little more olive oil and add the peppers and onions to the pan. Cook them until they become soft and start to brown. Then add the garlic and let it get fragrant for a minute.
- Season the mixture with the salt, crushed red pepper, dried basil, dried parsley, nutmeg, marinara, ricotta and parmesan into the pan and give everything a big stir. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 10 minutes. While that is all cooking, get a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Salt it until it tastes like the sea. Cook the pasta until just tender, usually about 8 minutes.
- While the pasta cooks and the sausage mixture is simmering pre-heat the oven to 350. Grab a 9 x 13 pan and brush the whole inside with olive oil to grease it. Drain the pasta and pour it into the prepared baking pan. Take the sausage mixture and pour it over the pasta and give it all a stir in the pan. Flatten it out to be even. Evenly distribute the shredded mozzarella over the top and then the breadcrumbs on top of the mozzarella.
- Bake the sausage, pepper and onion pasta bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the top and edges are slightly crisp and the interior is bubbly. Take it out and let it set for 5 minutes, then just cut and serve!