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Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

This recipe makes two pans of pasta. Serve one tonight, and keep the other in the freezer for up to three months.

  • prep: 30 mins
    total time: 1 hour 15 mins

Ingredients

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup vodka (optional)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes with juice, lightly crushed with hands
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 12 ounces smoked chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 6 ounces fontina cheese, 4 ounces cut into 1/2-inch cubes and 2 ounces coarsely grated
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook's Note

To freeze, prepare the dish through step 4; let cool completely before covering tightly with plastic wrap and placing in the freezer. If you freeze this dish, do not thaw before baking. Remove plastic wrap, and cover with foil. Cook until heated through, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Remove foil, and continue with step 5.

Directions

  1. Step 1

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Remove from heat; add vodka, if desired. Return to heat; cook until almost evaporated, 1 minute.

  2. Step 2

    Stir in tomatoes and oregano; cook until tomatoes are falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes. Add cream; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

  3. Step 3

    Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Add spinach, and cook just until wilted. Drain, and return contents to pot.

  4. Step 4

    Add tomato sauce, sausage, and cubed fontina to pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Divide evenly between two shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dishes.

  5. Step 5

    Top with grated fontina and Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

Source
Everyday Food, December 2004

Reviews (35)

  • 1 Feb, 2014

    I just made it for the second time. It is so good. I will bring this one to a super bowl party tomorrow. The second tray of it I will keep for myself because I know how much food will be there. However, if it's needed I'll slip across the street and bring over the second tray.
    I love it and know I'll make it often. It's so nice to know there is always the back-up tray. I may even divide the second tray.

  • 8 Jan, 2014

    I made this last night and my husband and daughter, Alexis, loved it! They could not stop picking at it while we had a discussion at the dinner table. I made it with two 12 oz packages of Apple chicken sausage and chopped up 8 oz.'s of Fontina. The tomatoes also had jalapeno, fresh herbs & spices in it, so it had a bit of a kick, which balanced out the sweetness in the sausage. I also grated fresh mozzarella cheese to top if off along with the parmesan cheese. Delicious dinner and hardy.

  • 18 Nov, 2013

    I was excited to try this recipe, but did not love the final dish. Even after using high-quality chicken sausage and fontina, this tasted bland to me. The ingredients were not inexpensive for the result. I would consider making again but adding more flavor (fresh herbs, etc)

  • 14 Nov, 2013

    Made this last night, but added a full 8 OZ of Fontina cheese. Really excellent! A keeper.

  • 30 Oct, 2013

    Made this last night for the family and I used turkey sausage instead of the chicken sausage (store did not have the chicken sausage) and it tasted wonderful. I thought it would be alittle running with all the tomatoe juice and it was fine.
    Best dinner ever and can not wait to have it again.

  • 1 Nov, 2011

    Now this is sooo a recipe I want to try!

  • 10 Sep, 2011

    For "queenzookie",try drainging tinned Tomatoes.Use Your Favourite Flavours and Taste if not using un~pasterised Eggs.Should renew Faith in Miss.Martha.

  • 10 Nov, 2010

    this is one of our fav's in the family. although it says it's 2 recipes, it barely lasts us one dinner! thanks martha!!!

  • 16 Aug, 2010

    Best baked pasta dish. I substitute mozzarella for the fontina and use crushed tomatoes from the can as a short cut. Everyone loves it.

  • 16 May, 2010

    With so many flavorful ingredients, I expected this to be very tasty. But I found it to be barely mediocre. It was less than the sum of its parts. Sorry, Martha!

  • 3 Mar, 2009

    I used ground chkicken and seasoned it with Penzey's Italian Sausage seasoning - perfect and cost effective!

  • 16 Nov, 2008

    I had to use Hilshire Farms Smoked Turkey Sausage as chicken was not available. Also Fontina cheese was $23.00/lb at Safeway so I used a 4-Italian shredded cheese mix instead. I think the idea here is to get a smokey flavor, but my family said to try either sweet or hot Italian sausage next time. The vodka sauce makes this very good.

  • 16 Nov, 2008

    I substituted a few things to this dish....Italian Sweet Basil Sausage for the Chicken Sausage and my grocery store didnt have fontina cheese but used Mozzerella instead. Excellent recipe!

  • 16 Nov, 2008

    My family loved this recipe, I had nothing left. I love that I can put the second dish in the freezer for another dinner. Perfect! I substituted the Italian Sweet Basil for the chicken sausage. Delicious! Definately make this dish again.

  • 15 Nov, 2008

    I added pancetta in mine and it came out totally divine.

  • 13 Nov, 2008

    To christydiane: I believe the chicken sausage described here is precooked. If I were substituting raw ground turkey sausage I would definitely cook and crumble first.

  • 13 Nov, 2008

    I tried jarred Vodka pasta sauce in this dish, and it worked just fine. Also substituted vegetarian Italian sausage for chicken sausage. Delicious!

  • 13 Nov, 2008

    This is DELICIOUS made just as directed but you can do fine with a jarred sauce. Also Fontina is a yummy melty Italian cheese but good substitutes would be mozzarella, Asiago - even a shredded Gruyere ["Swiss-y"] cheese would be good.

  • 12 Nov, 2008

    Is the smoked chicken sausage already cooked? I am substituting ground turkey sausage and was wondering if i should brown it before putting in the recipe.

  • 12 Nov, 2008

    Is the smoked chicken sausage already cooked? I am substituting ground turkey sausage and was wondering if i should brown it before putting in the recipe.

  • 12 Nov, 2008

    You can find excellent chicken sausage at Cosco or Sams. Many butcher shops make thier own and also many Italian markets.In fact, Emirel even has one that is quite tasty.

  • 12 Nov, 2008

    Sprouts, Whole Foods and Central Market in texas all carry Turkey Sausage. You can also get Jenny O Turkey Sausage at Target Superstores

  • 12 Nov, 2008

    Any recommendations on a brand or source for chicken sausage? Several recipes call for it, but I haven't found it in regular grocery chains in Texas.

  • 12 Nov, 2008

    I'll try to remember to let you know, I'm going to to store and using the jarred sauce for tonight.

  • 12 Nov, 2008

    Is it possible to substitute jarred vodka pasta sauce in this dish instead of making the sauce in the recipe? This would save some time.

  • 12 Nov, 2008

    red6586--Thanks for the suggestion- I may try pepper jack for more punch! My apologies for multiple entries. No indications that 1 submit worked!

  • 12 Nov, 2008

    Hi novawalker,
    Mozzarella would be a good substitute, although not as flavorful, but easier on the checkbook too.

  • 12 Nov, 2008

    What is a good substitue for fontina cheese? I've never had it?

  • 12 Nov, 2008

    Has anyone here made their own sausage? I saw this and wondered about making my own chicken sausage, adding our fav seasonings. Any advice?

  • 19 Mar, 2008

    This is really good and flavorful! The flavors really meld well together and are subtly delicious. I followed recipe exactly. I definately recommend this one!

  • 24 Feb, 2008

    Recipe did not say what SIZE pan of pasta this makes. It only makes one 13x9, as a previous commenter noted. Very tasty though. I used kale instead of spinach.

  • 17 Feb, 2008

    This is a delicious dish. I made it just in one 13x9 pan. I made it a day in advance and was able to cook it right before a dinner party. It turned out great.

  • 15 Feb, 2008

    Delicious. Makes 2 9x9 casseroles. Next time I will shred all of the cheese instead of just the cheese for the top. Great to make on a weekend when you have kitchen time and then freeze for easy weeknight meal with little cleanup. Good leftovers for work too! I will keep this in my lineup

  • 9 Jan, 2008

    Turned out great! I ended up doubling the recipe because we are having two sets of friends over this week. I froze half and served the other half last night. Very good!

  • 30 Dec, 2007

    Good. So good! It's quick and definately easy to make for a starter cook like me! My husband thought my cooking skills are definately improving after this dish!