And the award for King of All Comfort Foods goes to … Cheesy Baked Penne Pasta with Sausage! Because what’s not to love about a hearty meal-in-a-bowl that comes together in minutes, warms the tummy and tastes just as great (if not better) as leftovers?
I’d be hard-pressed to find a pasta dish I didn’t love. While I’m all for a crowd-pleasing mac and cheese recipe, there’s just something about the marriage of baked penne, tangy tomato sauce, Italian sausage and cheesy mozzarella that lands this dish at the very top of my list of pasta favorites.
Add a loaf of Secret Ingredient Garlic Bread to the setup and you’ve got yourself an award-winning feast guaranteed to rival the menu at your local Italian eatery.
Best of all, this recipe for baked penne pasta can be as homemade or as store-bought as your heart desires. Opt for my 10-minute marinara sauce or go the jarred route (my go-to brand is listed below!), and feel free to swap in any type of Italian or chicken sausage to suit your taste buds.
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- 12 ounces uncooked penne pasta
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 cup diced white onion
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 pound Italian sausage (sweet or spicy)
- 3 cups homemade or store-bought tomato sauce (See Kelly’s Notes)
- 1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
- 8 ounces sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil, for garnishing
- Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnishing
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne pasta and cook it just until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
- Add the olive oil to a large heavy-bottomed stock pot set over medium-low heat. Once the oil is warm, add the minced garlic, diced onions, dried oregano, and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until the onions are translucent. Add the Italian sausage and cook, breaking apart the sausage with a spatula, until the sausage is browned and cooked throughout.
- Drain any grease from the pot, reduce the heat to low then add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the cooked pasta to the pot and stir to combine.
- Transfer half of the the pasta to a 9x13-inch baking dish, top it with half of the sliced mozzarella cheese, then repeat another layer of the pasta and the sliced cheese.
- Bake the pasta for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove the baked penne from the oven, garnish it with the basil leaves and shredded Parmesan cheese and serve.
- When not using homemade tomato sauce, my favorite brand of store-bought tomato sauce is Prego Roasted Garlic & Herb because it has a rich tomato flavor and is seasoned with Italian herbs.
- The easiest way to cut fresh mozzarella cheese into thin slices is to pop it in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes so it’s nice and firm, which will then make it easier to slice.
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Recipe by Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste. Please do not reprint this recipe without my permission. If you'd like to feature this recipe on your site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link to this post as the original source.