Baked pasta has to be the ultimate comfort food for me. I love lasagna, baked ziti, anything warm with gooey cheese and loads of carbs. This recipe was originally from Cooking Light but I can't find it on their website anymore. I usually make it just like this but in a pinch, I've used a jarred sauce (like Trader Joe's Arrabiata) in place of the cherry tomato, bell pepper, tomato sauce part of the recipe.
Often, I half the recipe or split it into two dishes and share it with someone else. Spicy sausage changes the flavor but if you like things a little hotter, it's a good addition. My favorite part is the creamy, melty goat cheese - it adds a richness to the dish without a lot of extra calories.
Three Cheese Penne with Sausage (4-6 servings)
2 1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat penne
2 links (4 oz ea.) sweet italian sausage (I use chicken or turkey)
1 c. finely chopped green bell pepper
1 1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
10 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. tomato sauce
3/4 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 3 oz)
1/2 c. crumbled goat cheese (about 2 oz)
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions but without any salt or fat. Drain and keep warm. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage, add it to the pan, and cook for 2 minutes until it's starting to crumble. Add bell pepper, seasonings, cherry tomatoes, and garlic to the pan. Saute 6 minutes or until the bell pepper is tender.
Stir in tomato sauce. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add pasta to pan and toss it to coat with the sauce. Spoon it into a baking dish coated with cooking spray (8 in. square, deep round dish etc.). Stir in mozzarella and goat cheese and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes or until bubbly and browned.