I’m thrilled to share this recipe from Carla McDonald, founder of The Salonniere, the first and only dedicated source of entertaining inspiration and tips from party experts. (I’m delighted to have been featured on the site!) This is Carla’s go-to casual dinner party recipe because it’s delicious and easy. It can be prepared and assembled up to two days before the party. Just keep it covered in the refrigerator and remove it half an hour before baking.
Baked Pasta with Sausage and Tomato Pesto
Serves 6 to 8
1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 26-ounce boxes Pomi brand marinara sauce
6 tablespoons pesto sauce (store bought is fine)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound regular or gluten-free penne
8 ounces smoked Gouda, finely diced
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach leaves
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the sausage and onion. Cook, breaking up the sausage with a spoon, for about 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring frequently to evenly cook the onion. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the marinara sauce and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken. Stir in the pesto and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Cook the penne in a large pot of salted boiling water for about 10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain well.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Oil a 9-x-13 inch baking dish and spread a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of the dish.
Combine the pasta with the remaining sauce, the Gouda, 1/3 cup of the Parmesan, and the spinach in a large bowl, mixing well. Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish and sprinkle the remaining 2/3 cup Parmesan over the top.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the casserole begins to bubble and the cheese is browned. Serve hot.