Monday, July 9, 2007

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese

I love it when a "light" recipe doesn't taste "light"! I've found a number of recipes on the Cooking Light website (yes, just like the food/lifestyle magazine) that have fulfilled this desire and this one I didn't have to do any searching to find. This was the first cooking (as opposed to baking) recipe that my cooking board (on The Nest) voted on for the Recipe of the Week on our board's blog, graciously hosted by nestie adamswife.

Now, you ask, how could a recipe with sausage, pasta, and cheese be on the lighter side? Easy. The recipe calls for turkey sausage and the total calorie count for one serving is 418 kcal. Not bad for a whole meal. There are ways, of course, to lighten it even further, some of which I applied this time (used roasted garlic chicken sausage rather than turkey, for example), and one which I will apply the next time I make the dish - see modifications below.

So get on with it, right? OK OK!

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese
Ingredients
  • 1 lb package uncooked ziti (short tube-shaped pasta)
  • 1 pound hot turkey Italian sausage links*
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cans (14.5oz) petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded fresh mozzarella cheese*
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain the pasta, and set aside.
Remove casings from sausage.* Cook sausage, onion, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble.* Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil.* Place half of the pasta mixture in a 4-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Top with half of mozzarella and half of Parmesan. Repeat layers.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes* or until bubbly.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Serves: 8 (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 413(26% from fat); FAT 11.8g (sat 6.1g,mono 2.2g,poly 1g); PROTEIN 24.1g; CHOLESTEROL 49mg; CALCIUM 265mg; SODIUM 941mg; FIBER 4.5g; IRON 7.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 53g
Source: Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2003

*Modifications

  1. Rather than turkey sausage, I opted for pre-cooked roasted garlic chicken sausage (140 calories per link).
  2. I always have extra cheese in the fridge so I used 1/4 cup shredded fontina and 1/3 cup part-skim mozzarella (instead of fresh mozz to reduce calories a little further).
  3. Because the sausages were pre-cooked, I sliced them into bite-size pieces rather than "de-casing" and browning.
  4. I cooked the onions down for a couple of minutes before adding the garlic, and then added the sliced sausage and browned them for a couple of minutes before adding the tomato paste, S&P, and diced tomatoes.
  5. To ensure that the flavor of the fresh basil really came through, I sprinkled it on each layer along with the cheese instead of combining it with the hot pasta and sausage mixture that would surely wilt the basil and take away some of its "freshness".
  6. I reduced baking time to 20 minutes so as to not overcook the now twice-cooked chicken sausages.
  7. And lastly, I halved this recipe (except the garlic which remained at 2 cloves) without an issue but feel like it needed more tomatoes - maybe even just half a can more (including the tomato juice).

1 comment:

DeborahSW said...

Ooooooo... this looks like cheesey deliciousness! :)