We enjoy Italian food in any shape or form. The sauces, pasta, seafood, and antipasti featuring all of the flavors of the Mediterranean are in one word, fabulous! On the practical side, Italian inspired baked entrees are great for make ahead meals. The flavors actually improve and become more robust if a pasta dish is assembled in advance, not to mention the time you’ll save. I actually plan on making this saucy baked penne ahead of time and have it ready to put into the oven on a busy day. Add a simple salad and a basket of warm garlic bread and it becomes a tasty family pleasing meal.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Saucy Baked Penne Pasta
- 2 1/2 cups dry penne pasta
- 1 medium sweet onion chopped
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes more or less to taste
- salt & black pepper to taste
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 lb sweet Italian sausage casings removed
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 2 24-oz jars marinara sauce i.e. Bertolli Five Cheese
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 cup shredded Italian blend cheese or Mozzarella cheese
- 9 slices mozzarella cheese
- 3 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley divided
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 13 x 9 inch dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- On the stove top cook the penne pasta in salted water per the directions until al dente. Drain well then add to a large mixing bowl.
- Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, pepper flakes, salt and black pepper to taste.
- Add ground beef and Italian sausage to onions. Cook over medium-high until no pink remains. Drain excess fat from the pot.
- Add the minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and Italian seasoning. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the marinara sauce. Simmer on low for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, mix in 2 Tbsp parsley.
- Pour sauce over cooked pasta reserve 1 cup for the top. Whisk together ricotta and egg. Add to pasta with 1 cup of shredded Italian cheese. Stir until well combined.
- Pour 1/2 pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Arrange 9 slices of cheese over pasta.
- Pour remaining pasta over cheese slices. Drizzle the top with the reserved 1 cup sauce. Spread evenly
- Place into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese and Parmesan cheese on top.
- Return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbly.
- Serve hot garnished with reserved parsley.