This hot Italian pasta bake is SO good, super simple, and takes less than an hour from start to finish. It's an easy comfort food recipe and will satisfy your craving for an ooey-gooey, cheesy baked pasta.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword Comfort Food, Italian Sausage, Pasta, Quick & Easy, Sausage
Prep Time 10minutes
Cook Time 45minutes
Total Time 55minutes
1lbhot Italian sausagesliced into 2-inch pieces on the bias (diagonal cut); see note
8ozbutton mushroomscleaned and quartered
2largered bell pepperscut into ½-inch strips
1largeshallotpeeled, quartered, and cut into thin slices
4clovesgarlicpeeled, smashed, and roughly chopped
128 oz cancrushed tomatoes
1 tbspdried basil
½lbshort pastalike penne or cavatappi
6ozwhole milk mozzarella cheesegrated
Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
Place a 12-inch cast-iron skillet (or another heavy, oven-proof high sided skillet) over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Then place the sausage pieces in the pan, cut-side down, to brown. Brown for on all sides until deeply golden brown. This should take about 5-7 minutes total.Use tongs to remove browned sausage to a plate. Reserve the fat in the pan.
Add the mushrooms to the pan with a pinch of salt. Cook until the water starts cooking out of the mushrooms and the mushrooms start to brown. Stir frequently to evenly brown. This should take about 5 minutes.Then add the red pepper and shallots to the pan with the mushrooms. Cook until the vegetables soften and start to brown. Another 5 minutes or so. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
Add the tomatoes, water, oregano, basil, and kosher salt to the pan. Bring to a heavy simmer and then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Add the sausage back to the pan with any juices accumulated on the plate. Simmer the sauce for 15-minutes while you boil the pasta.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add a very big pinch of salt. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta. Boil until the pasta has slightly more bite than usual (very al dente.) Strain.
Add the strained pasta to the sauce. Fold it so the pasta is evenly covered in sauce. Stir in ⅓ of the grated mozzarella cheese. Then top with the remaining cheese. Place, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 15-minutes until the sauce is bubbling the cheese is melted and lightly browned.Remove from the oven. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Have sweet Italian sausage? This recipe will work with that too, but if you want spice, add a teaspoon or so of crushed red pepper flakes.
I really like to cut the sausage on the bias here because it offers more surface area for browning which equals flavor.