Thursday, June 4, 2015

Creamy Sausage & Spinach Pasta

My sweet newborn baby is apparently not a newborn any more...he's a whopping 8 month old.  If you think the first baby grows up fast...well, the second is just a blur!  He's crawling, pulling up, cruising, eating grown-up food; and most importantly, he is sleeping through the night.  However, back 8 months ago, none of us were getting much sleep, and my husband and I were zombies.  When you have just one child, you can theoretically sleep when the baby sleeps.  But when you have two kids?  Well, that clearly just doesn't work. 

Several families were kind enough to bring us dinner during this wonderful but difficult time in our lives, and it really made such a difference to our moods.  Seriously, food is the best gift you can give someone who just had a baby.  One of the dinners we received was a sausage & spinach casserole.  It was creamy and hot and just spot-on comfort food.  Perfect.  When my friend had a baby three months later, I set out to recreate the dish so she could enjoy it too.  It took several attempts to get the dish right (sorry to say my friend got my least favorite version...sorry Jessica!), but I now deem it blog-ready!  It's of course wonderful to eat immediately, but if you want to save it for later, it freezes and reheats just beautifully.  

Feel free to make the dish as spicy as you like it:  use mild or hot sausage, or up the garlic powder or throw in a few pinches of red pepper flakes if you want it extra zesty!  Just give it a taste test before you transfer it to the casserole dish, and adjust the seasonings to your liking.  

Creamy Sausage & Spinach Pasta
Serves 6

3 Cups Uncooked Penne Rigata
1 lb Ground Italian Sausage (hot or mild)
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp dried Basil
1 tsp dried Oregano
1 tsp Kosher Salt
15 oz can Diced Tomatoes
10 oz bag (~6 cups) of Fresh Spinach
1/3 Cup Half n Half
8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
8 oz Mozzarella Cheese, shredded & divided


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 (or 2 quart) baking dish.

2.  Boil noodles until al dente.  Drain and set aside.

3.  Meanwhile, heat a pot over medium heat.  Add sausage and and cook until sausage is cooked through and no longer pink.  Drain grease and turn heat to low.

4.  Stir in the seasonings, tomatoes, spinach, cream cheese, cream, and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese.  Once the spinach has wilted and the sauce is smooth and creamy, stir in the noodles and remove from heat.  Spoon mixture into the greased casserole dish, top with remaining cheese, and cover.

5.  Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot and cheese has melted.

To Freeze and Cook Later:  Do steps 1 through 4.  Allow it to cool, and then wrap with plastic wrap, followed by aluminum foil.  Freeze.  When ready to eat, put it in the fridge overnight to allow it to thaw, and then bake covered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until heated through. 

Serving Size:  1/6th of Casserole
Calories:  566
Fat:  32
Carbs:  37
Protein:  28

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