Monday, August 8, 2022


This is another meal very much enjoyed, and I know it always depends on individual tastes, but we gave it a 10 out of 10.  You can make ahead of time by a couple of days, or freeze for up to two months.  I found it at The Kitchn and the recipe comes from Sheela Prakash.  The original recipe can be found  here.  
It is always worth checking the food blogs I get my recipes from.  You can look at their photos and also read all notes made, which will help making this dish.  Thank you Sheela for helping to add a delicious meal to our make again folder.  This would be great for company.

Cheesy Pasta al Forno with Italian Sausage

Serves 6 to 8

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 40 to 45 minutes

1/2 medium yellow onion

4 cloves garlic

1 pound uncut low-moisture whole milk mozzarella cheese

2 ounces Parmesan cheese (1 cup firmly packed freshly grated or 2/3 cup store-bought grated)

1 pound uncooked hot or sweet Italian sausage

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 (about 24-ounce) jars marinara sauce (about 6 cups total), divided

1 pound dried rigatoni pasta

Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving (optional)

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. 

Get all ingredients prepared.

Dice 1/2 medium yellow onion (about 1/2 cup). 

Mince 4 garlic cloves. 

Cut 1 pound mozzarella cheese into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups). 

Finely grate 2 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 1 packed cup). 

Remove the casings from 1 pound Italian sausage if needed.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. 

Add the onion and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. 

Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add the sausage, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. 

Cook, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon or spatula into small pieces, until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. 

Add 1 jar of the marinara sauce (about 3 cups) and stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. 

Remove the pan from the heat.

Add 1 pound rigatoni pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions but for 2 minutes less than al dente, about 8 minutes. 

Drain the pasta and return it to the now-empty pot off the heat.

Add the sausage mixture and remaining jar of marinara sauce to the pasta.  Fold in until we’ll combined.

Add half of the mozzarella and fold in.

Transfer the mixture to a 9x13-inch baking dish, or divide between 2 (8-inch) baking dishes.  You can use disposable foil trays, or a freeze-to-oven-safe baking dish if you’re planning to freeze. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.

Bake until the edges are bubbling and the cheese on top is completely melted and browned in spots, about 30 minutes. 

Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. 

Garnish with chopped fresh parsley leaves if using.

Sheela's notes:

Make ahead: The unbaked casserole can be prepared up to 2 days in advance, covered with aluminum foil, and refrigerated. When ready to bake, remove from the refrigerator while the oven heats. Uncover and add 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Baking from frozen: If you plan to bake the casserole straight from the freezer, you can assemble it in a metal or disposable foil baking dish. Let the unbaked casserole cool completely in the pan, then wrap tightly in aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 months.  Bake the casserole, still wrapped in the foil, at 350ºF until heated through and an instant-read thermometer registers 165°F in the center. 

For a frozen casserole, this will take 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours. 

For a thawed casserole (thaw overnight in the refrigerator), this will take about 1 hour. 

Whether baking from frozen or thawed, bake uncovered for the last 15 minutes so the cheese can brown.

Denise's notes:

We actually divided this into four separate dishes, using one larger dish for the meal that day, and two smaller 2-meal dishes, and also one individual meal size, the smaller ones to be put in the freezer for another day.   The larger dish we had originally, there were leftovers for the next day.  Cooking times would be different and I'm not sure by how much. There will be a little bit of guesswork involved. 

We served it with a mixed green salad.

We forgot to use the second jar of marinara sauce and didn't realize what we had done until after eating.  I noticed later when I picked up the unused jar while tidying the kitchen. It was not missed in the tasting of this dish, not dry at all and so delicious. If we added garlic bread that extra bottle of marinara would be added following the original list of ingredients.  Gregg’s suggestion, as he thought he would enjoy dipping his bread in the extra sauce.

Another suggestion of his was that he would like to add sliced mushrooms at the same time he cooks the onions.  We both enjoy those.

This recipe was made on a very hot and humid day.   Even with our A/C on, our kitchen was like a sauna, so that’s something to think about.  

Nothing else to say except that we truly enjoyed this meal!  

Thanks for looking and have a great week.


  1. I am making this! And I think i already have everything here. So I will add only 1 jar of sauce, right?

    1. Great Ginny, and one jar worked out for us. It depends if you want more sauce to dip bread, but we found for us, one jar was enough. Please would you let me know if you enjoy it or not? Thanks so much for trying it :)

  2. Pasta dishes are soooo versatile. Minus the sausage I would enjoy this one. Thank you.

    1. You are very welcome and they certainly are. This would be easy to change things around to your own taste. Thank you Sue :)

  3. That looks very nice. My husband doesn't care for pasta but I don't mind it so I often cook it for youngest son and myself and sometimes when his children are here too.

    1. Your husband sounds like my dad. He never cared for it either. My husband loves pasta, as does our son, me too. But we try not to indulge that often :)

  4. Deeeeelicious!! I'm sure. I bet for a change of taste, ground beef could be used instead of sausage. But either way...yummy. (I like the idea of adding mushrooms and dipping garlic bread in the sauce too!)

    1. Thanks Anni, beef would be a nice change. It's a versatile dish and garlic bread dipped sounds wonderful the more I think of it :)

  5. That looks soul comforting and yummy.

  6. Replies
    1. Muito obrigado, ficou muito gostoso :) Um abraço e continuação de boa semana.

  7. This looks really delicious.

  8. I would love this recipe, sounds yummy. Thanks for sharing.
    Take care, have a great new week!

    1. You are very welcome Eileen and I wish you the same :)

  9. Not a difficult recipe and one that is great for when guests are coming to visit and it can be prepped and cooked in advance.

    1. Not difficult at all, and I do like that prepping in advance. Thank you Dorothy :)

  10. Replies
    1. Thanks Sandra, couldn't agree with you more, lol! :)

  11. Oh yummy! Eye candy!
    (ツ) from Jenn Jilks , ON, Canada!

  12. Looks really good, Denise. I have copied and printed the recipe and will give it a go.

    1. Great, so glad you liked it Gigi. Please let me know what you think :) I would enjoy comparing notes.

  13. This pasta dish looks delicious. You know, Italian food is my favorite. I think the Italian sausage and Mozzarella cheese makes this dish. There's nothing like lots of gooey cheese in our foods. ; )


    1. Thank you Sheri :) I agree with you. We have not often used sausage in our meals, but it is certainly going on the shopping list for anything like this.

  14. Sounds so good and I love a pasta dish that isn't spaghetti (I'm a messy eater and spaghetti and I just don't do well together !) . Love that it's easy to freeze also of course. Could be a company dish for four with leftovers for two later!

    1. Hi Sallie, thank you and I know all about spaghetti :))) I love the fact you can make this the day before, especially if we have company. Makes it much easier to enjoy that company when we free ourselves up at such times.

  15. I would love to make this and put it in the freezer for busy days, Denise! Italian sausage is so good in pasta, I'm sure we would enjoy this special treat! It's always nice to get inspiration from you.

    1. I am very happy you think so Martha Ellen, I appreciate your sweet comments :)

  16. That does look very nice, a definite hit for you :)

    All the best Jan

    1. Yes, most definitely and thank you Jan, all the best to you too :)

  17. Replies
    1. Great, so glad you like the look of it William :)

  18. Another great meal that looks satisfying. Thank you, Denise!


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