Welcome to The Basil & Cinnamon Sagas! I'm Alexa, and I am a food and travel blogger who loves cooking, baking, eating, and storytelling. Enjoy reading and eating your way through the Sagas found here!

Cheesy Hot Italian Sausage Baked Pasta

Cheesy Hot Italian Sausage Baked Pasta


Happy Friday, all!

Unfortunately, I did not completely avoid the end-of-winter colds that are sweeping around campus right now. Much to my dismay, I woke up yesterday feeling a little scratchy in the throat. So far that's all it's been, so I'm crossing my fingers that it'll blow over quickly and without all the gnarly snot that tends to accompany the common cold. Sorry--that's not a good image for a food blog. Bear with me, I'm a little fuzzy today.

Until my throat feels less like I'm gurgling thumbtacks, I have Honey Vanilla Chamomile tea to keep me company, and am living life in a cozy sweater and a bunch of different pairs of fuzzy socks. I have my class fuzzies, my work fuzzies, my laying-on-the-couch fuzzies, my cooking fuzzies, etc. I'm not really sure why I keep changing them. Seriously, my room is a battleground of discarded fuzzy socks right now, but that's the level I'm able to function on today so I'm just going to roll with it and not question it too much.

In more positive news, the sun emerged today from behind its cloud fortress, where it's been mercilessly spitting on us for the last few days. I went for a little walk around campus today and everything was gorgeous and sun-kissed and it was quite enjoyable (except for the sloshing through melting snow/ice/slush-lakes part). The birds were singing and the sky was a bright blue and everything felt happy.

Since I'm low energy and foggy-headed, I needed something easy, warm, and filling tonight. So I made my recipe for Cheesy Hot Italian Sausage Baked Pasta, which is absolutely as hearty and delicious as it sounds. It's basically the epic convergence of spicy sausage, crunchy bell peppers and onions, fragrant garlic, and al dente pasta, all done up with robust red sauce and melty cheese.

It requires minimal effort; you just chop, throw into skillet, cook, pour into pan, mix, and bake. And you can just cover the pan with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and stick it into the fridge if you have any leftovers. Then pull it out, uncover, and plop the whole pan back into the oven to warm up when you're ready for a second go!

Me and my fuzzy socks sat on the floor with our cheesy sausage baked pasta and watched Heather do a fashion show of potential professional wear outfits. My dear smart roomie has a fancy-shmancy interview, and she's of the mind to dress for success. My personal favorite? A navy blouse with golden pineapples. Dang, girl. Your wardrobe is fresh in more ways than one. In unrelated news; is it pineapple season yet?


Cheesy Hot Italian Sausage Baked Pasta

Makes: 4-5 servings

Takes: About 45 minutes (30 min. prep, 15 min. bake)

The Characters:

  • 1 box rigatoni pasta
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3/4 onion
  • 1 lb. ground hot Italian sausage (or ground mild Italian sausage, and then add 2 tsp. crushed red hot chili pepper flakes)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 bell pepper (any color)
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce (I recommend buying a spicy flavor)
  • 1 package shredded mozzarella cheese

The Sagas:

  1. Preheat oven to 275°F.
  2. Fill saucepan with water and salt. Put on burner and turn to high, and begin making the rest of the meal. When water begins to boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente (according to package instructions).
  3. Dice onion and bell pepper.
  4. Put olive oil in a skillet. Swirl to coat bottom. Saute onions on medium heat for about 4 minutes, or until onion is translucent. 
  5. Add hot Italian sausage. Cook for 8-10 minutes, crumbling and stirring with a spatula. Mince garlic, and add garlic and bell pepper to the skillet in the last 3 minutes. Cook until garlic becomes fragrant and sausage is browned.
  6. Drain the pasta and pour it into a 9x13" oven-safe pan. Add the meat and vegetable mixture over the top. Pour on spaghetti sauce, and sprinkle 1/2 of the package of mozzarella on top. With a spoon, mix all of the ingredients together in the pan. 
  7. Sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella over the top, covering it.
  8. Put the pan into the oven and cook for about 15 minutes, or until cheese has melted. Begin checking at 10 minutes.
  9. Grab a fork and dig in!

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