Italian Sausage Pasta Bake


It is still so cold outside.  Ugh.  But that means I get to try out more comfort food recipes!  This particular recipe is quite tasty 🙂  I’ve tried a lot of pasta casserole dishes in my day, and this one almost has a sweet flavor to it.  With the orange juice, peel, and red peppers, it adds a really nice touch.  I could not find basil at the store, so the only thing I had to substitute for was Italian Seasoning.  Not the perfect substitute, but it turned out alright!  I’m sure basil would be a ton better, but the Italian seasoning added a nice contrast to the sweet sauce.  Hope you decide to try it!

YIELD: 8-10 servings

TIME: 2 hours

16 oz penne pasta
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 medium-size fennel bulb, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 jars marinara sauce
1 package mild Italian sausage
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 tsp orange zest
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup torn fresh basil
8 oz mozzarella, sliced
shredded Italian mix cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F and cook pasta according to instructions.  Saute onion and fennel in heated olive oil over medium heat for 8-10 minutes.  Add garlic and fennel seeds and cook 1 minute.  Stir in marinara sauce, and then mix in Italian sausage, orange juice, chicken broth, orange zest, red pepper, and salt.  Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil.  Reduce to medium low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in basil, cooked pasta, and salt to taste.  Transfer to a lightly greased 13×9″ Pyrex dish and top with mozzarella slices and shredded cheese.  Bake for 25 minutes, until bubbly, and serve warm.

Hope y’all enjoy!

xoxo, Sara

original recipe: Southern Living, January 2014


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