Baked Rotini with Sausage and Bacon
#100daysofcooking, Recipes

Day 78: A penne for your thoughts about kitchen pinch-hitters


Baked Penne Rotini with Italian Sausage Sausage, Bacon and Extra Old Cheddar


There were a couple of sausages up to no good that I wanted to use, and I’d spent quite a bit of the day working myself up to making sausage-barley-lentil soup. But every time I went to start cooking, the voice in my head was like … Really? Lentil soup? Is this really going to make anyone happy?

Apparently the answer was no.

I went back to pondering what I had in the kitchen, and what I could do with them, and voila!  Baked Penne and Italian Sausage. Perfect! It might have been an after-effect of the bouts of flu Dan and I had been battling, but the idea of cheesy pasta in a tomato sauce sounded really good to both of us.

Except … I didn’t have penne. No worries, I had rotini.

Also, I didn’t have anything resembling mozzarella cheese. No problem. Hello, Cheddar.

As for sausages, the two in my fridge were falling far short of one pound. No biggie! We’ll  backstop with bacon.

Sounds like a plan. We would make Baked Penne Rotini with Italian Sausage Sausage, Bacon and Extra Old Cheddar.

As it turned out, the recipe I was using was not very good at all (it is the one I linked to, use at your own risk), so I had to make a few instructional substitutions as well.

Not sure what I was thinking, to start cooking based on a recipe that threatened to drown the pasta in canned tomato sauce, had a passing mention of garlic and not a single speck of oregano, basil or any other herb.

I blame the poor decision-making on a lingering weakness from the flu.

Anyway, apart from the cheddar (which really is wrong in Italian food) and a need to strain off some of the extra tomato sauce (even after using far less than suggested), the swaps were easy and the end product hit the spot.

No magic, no dramatics and best of all, no lentil soup.

Kitchen Castoff Used

Two Italian sausages (mild)

Baked Rotini with Sausage and Bacon
Baked Rotini with Sausage and Bacon

This is how we did it

Ingredients

This made enough for four dinner-sized servings (or two with leftovers)

  • 250 g (about half a box) of dried pasta such as rotini, penne or farfalle
  • 3 – 4 links Italian sausage (mild or hot), sliced into bite-size pieces
  • Optional: thick-cut bacon in addition to sausage, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 – 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp each dried oregano, basil, thyme
  • Pinch of hot pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or cheddar in a pinch)

Method

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta, according to package directions.

In large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil then add the onions and let cook for a few minutes. Add the sausage and bacon (if using). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is cooked through. Drain any excess fat.

Add garlic to the pan and cook for about 1 minute. Then pour in the white wine and stir (I like using a wooden spoon) and scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.

Stir in the tomatoes, sauce and paste plus herbs and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Dump in the cooked pasta and toss to mixm then transfer it to a 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese and bake about 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted.


Curious about my “Kitchen Castoffs” concept? Here’s the explainer describing my 100-day project.

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