Sunday, September 27, 2015

Turkey Sausage Rigatoni Bake

Warm and hearty pasta like this dish is great for fall meals! Pasta bakes are diverse, allowing you to bake ahead of time and warm up when you need it, or re-heat the leftovers. Also, easy enough to make anytime of the week. 1.Cook pasta 2. Cook sausage and onions 3. Mix all ingredients together and bake – done!

I compare this to a healthy ziti – same principal concept of a pasta bake with less cheese and turkey sausage instead of beef to make it leaner. Oh and did you notice the spinach?!  Spinach is hidden in there giving you some veggie action without sacrificing taste. My testers said they didn’t taste the spinach at all. Yay! One other healthier option is whole wheat pasta for added fiber and nutrients.

I also splurged and tested out a new-to-me sauce, Muir Glen Organic Tomato & Basil ($3.99). I’ve been looking hard at sugar content of prepared foods lately (thanks to the documentary Fed Up by Katie Couric – great watch when you have time!). Pasta sauces have a lot of hidden sugar – Muir Glen only has 5 grams. It is also low in calories (60g) and fat (0.5g), opposed to some sauces like Ragu’s garlic and onion that has to 10g of sugar, 90 calories and 2.5g of fat.

Again this was a splurge for sure. I usually buy natures promise pasta sauce ($2.50) or can tomato sauce ($1.69) which has very close to the same nutritional content as Muir Glen.  

For price ($$$) – This is a 3 out of 4, coming in just over $10. If you spurge on sauce like I did or make a larger portion this could get over $10 but there are ways to cut. Pasta was on sale for $1 and turkey sausage was about $3.99 per lb. Spinach I get at Trader Joe's for $1.99. I stock up on cheese at Aldi where blocks are $1.99. For the basil, if you don’t have it on hand, just omit to save some $$. I keep dried basil on hand, but not fresh.  As I said earlier this dish is diverse in that you can eat it multiple times– for one large dinner for a group, or enough to pack in lunches or leftover dinners for a couple days or ever freeze and re-heat later.

Serving Size 4
1 box (16 oz) Rigatoni Pasta
1 Can (26 oz) Tomato Sauce
2 Cups Spinach
1 lb Turkey Sausage
½ Cup Red Onion, chopped
2-3 Sprigs Basil (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1 tsp. Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. EVOO
1 Cup Colby Jack Cheese, shredded

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large pot, bring water to boil and cook pasta according to box. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan add 1 Tbsp. EVOO, and 1 tsp. garlic and turkey sausage. Cook on medium-high heat and break sausage into small pieces using spatula at the start of cooking. In a separate saucepan (or by adding to the turkey sausage pan once browned) add 1 Tbsp. EVOO and chopped onions, and cook for about 7-10 minutes. Once pasta and sausage mixture are cooked mix together in pasta pot and add spinach, basil and tomato sauce to pot. Mix together (no heat necessary) and pour into greased 13x9 baking pan/dish. Place in oven for 20 minutes. Remove and add shredded cheese on top. Place back in the oven for 5 more minutes, or until cheese is melted. 

Cooking sausage and onions. I cooked separately but you can add onions to sausage once cooked. 

I love sauteed onions! Yum!

Turn off heat and add sauce, spinach, and basil and stir. 

Before hitting the oven.

Just out of the oven.

Let's eat!

Try it and let me know what you think!

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