An autumn wreath candle flickers on my kitchen counter, harvest colored mums grace my front porch, and there is no shortage of pumpkin décor throughout my house. While I love the red and green frenzy of Christmas, fall really is the most wonderful time of the year. The excitement begins with the first sip of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, builds with the culinary possibilities of college football tailgates, and culminates with every foodie’s favorite holiday – Thanksgiving.
When cozy sweaters become my uniform, comfort food becomes a staple on my table. Spicy baked penne is the ultimate comfort food, a delicious blend of nutty whole wheat pasta, creamy cheeses, flavorful tomatoes, and a kick of spicy Italian sausage. This recipe is beautifully adaptable to whatever you have on hand, and can be made with crushed or diced tomatoes, mozzarella or cottage cheese, sausage or ground beef. It's the perfect meal to enjoy as the weather begins to cool.
1 package uncooked whole wheat penne
1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 14.5 oz cans crushed tomatoes
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.
3) Cook sausage, onion, green pepper and garlic until sausage is browned, drain and return to pan.
4) Add tomato paste, salt, black pepper and crushed tomatoes to the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5) Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil.
6) Place half the pasta mixture in a 9x13 casserole dish coated in cooking spray. Top with half of the cheeses. Repeat layers.
7) Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly.
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, December 2007.