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Cheesy Baked Pasta

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Italian Sausage

This cheesy baked pasta takes the components of lasagna and makes it into an easier and simpler dish! This is a great make ahead dish that can be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd.
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cheesy pasta, baked pasta, Italian susage baked pasta
Servings: 6
Author: Maryanne Cabrera

Ingredients

  • 8 oz medium pasta shells
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ cup shallots, (or onions) minced
  • 12 oz Italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
  • ¾ cup low fat (2%) cottage cheese, small curds
  • 6 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • chopped Italian parsley, to garnish

Instructions

  • Cook pasta to al dente according to pasta package instructions. Drain and let cool.
  • Heat about 2 tsp of olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and cook until shallots have started to soften. Stir often to prevent garlic from burning. Add Italian sausage and cook until browned. As sausage cooks, break into small pieces. Once sausage is cooked, drain off any excess fat (oil).
  • Add entire can of crushed tomatoes, including any juice. Add tomato paste, sugar, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Sample sauce and add additional salt or pepper to taste. Let sauce cool for about 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, add cooled pasta, cooled meat sauce, cottage cheese and mozzarella cubes. Toss to combine. Place tossed pasta in casserole dish, or any oven-safe serving ware. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese on top.
  • Bake for 20 minutes until cheese on top is melted. Set oven to broiler and allow cheese to brown for 30-45 seconds. Remove from oven and let dish stand for 5-8 minutes before serving.

Notes

TO FREEZE: assemble pasta and cheese in a freezer safe container. Cover tightly with plastic wrap store in the freezer for up to one month. Bake as directed.