Baked Pasta with Sausage and Spinach, Part II

I’m all for meals you can prepare ahead of time and cook the next day. Even better, freeze the leftovers for another night when things get crazy! This recipe is just that kind of recipe so I was excited to try it. It can originally be found on Skinnytaste, one of my favorite food blogs.

I’m going to go off on a tangent for a minute. Last year I set out to lose some weight. I didn’t want to just get pounds off, but wanted to change my lifestyle when it came to eating. I knew that I would never stick to any diet for long if the food wasn’t good. I needed to find a way to cook things that were good for me, tasty AND without the added calories. Was that even possible?! When I found Gina’s blog, Skinnytaste, it was just what I was looking for. I haven’t been disappointed in any of her recipes and it is always my go-to blog for something light and tasty. A year later, I’m almost 20 lbs lighter, with some more to go, but it’s an ongoing journey. I’m learning to eat right in the long run! As for the picky eaters in my family… feeding them new things still remains a challenge. It’s difficult trying to cook healthy meals while at the same time trying to feed eaters that rarely like anything green! I already know by the sound of this recipe that I’m going to love it, but I’m hoping my family will too. All that spinach hidden in the meat sauce…. hmmm we’ll see!
The first step was making quick marinara sauce. This was super easy. Here is the original recipe.
Smash garlic and saute in a little olive oil in a medium pan until golden. You really just want to saute until fragrant and not burn! Add your crushed tomatoes. I used Tuttorosso, the brand she recommended, and was not disappointed. It is already like a sauce and no need to puree further. Pour sauce in with the garlic and add oregano, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 25-30 mins and then add some freshly chopped basil at the end. DONE!

While this is simmering, prepare your cheese layer.

Grate 1/2 cup of Pecorino Romano. Any Romano cheese works, but get the good stuff, don’t buy the already grated Kraft powder! Shred 8 oz of mozzerella cheese and divide in half. In a medium bowl, combine 8 oz of Ricotta, half the mozzerella cheese and 6 Tablespoons of the romano. Set aside.
Boil noodles. I used some whole grain Penne I already had on hand. While noodles are boiling, cook up the chicken sausage, set aside, and in the same pan, add a little olive oil and 2 garlic cloves minced. Toss in your spinach (this should already be thawed and squeezed of excess liquid), and add a little salt and pepper to taste. Add your sausage back to the skillet and pour sauce over the top and mix altogether.
Now time to assemble everything!

Spray a 9×13 baking dish with olive oil spray. Put half of the noodles at the bottom, and cover with half of the meat/spinach/marinara sauce. Next, put the cheese mixture in a single layer over top of that. This is where I goofed. I divided the cheese mixture thinking it was going in another layer. I’m not sure it made any difference at all though! Top with remaining noodles and sauce and cover with mozzerella and romano on the top.

Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 20 mins. Remove foil and cook another 7 minutes!

Taste test time!

While I really liked it just as it was, the consensus was that it needed a bit more sauce. The girls picked the spinach out too… which was a little disappointing since I’m trying to find more ways to get green stuff in their tummies! However, my little man gobbled it up… with a smile! Totally worth the effort for that. I’ll make this again, even if it’s just for me and Daniel.

Is it just me or does everyone else’s kitchen look like this after cooking?

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2 responses to “Baked Pasta with Sausage and Spinach, Part II

  1. The popcorn maker is definately cool! We use it all the time… so much better than microwave! You'll need a bread machine too.. that goes on my other counter. Oh and I'm getting a toaster oven next week!

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