Baked penne with sausage and creamy ricotta

Since my co-worker took the day off today, I needed a menu that was simple enough for one person to prepare for 50 people, in 4 hours. Pasta is always an option so I chose to make baked penne with sausage and creamy ricotta.
 baked penne with sausage and creamy ricotta
baked penne with sausage and creamy ricotta
Baked penne with sausage and creamy ricotta
Serves 8
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Total Time
2 hr 15 min
Total Time
2 hr 15 min
753 calories
56 g
115 g
43 g
35 g
19 g
388 g
770 g
8 g
0 g
21 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 753
Calories from Fat 383
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 43g
Saturated Fat 19g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 17g
Cholesterol 115mg
Sodium 770mg
Total Carbohydrates 56g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 8g
Protein 35g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  2. 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  3. 1 lb hot or sweet Italian fennel sausage, casings removed
  4. 28 oz can tomato puree
  5. 1 1/2 cups water
  6. 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  7. 1 bay leaf
  8. 1/4 tsp ground fennel
  9. salt and freshly ground pepper
  10. 1 lb penne
  11. 3 cups creamy ricotta
  12. 1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  13. 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Cherry on my Sundae

For complete recipe visit Food and Wine


**Helpful tips and common mistakes

As usual, I made some changes to this recipe. I always have onion in sauce for pasta so I added one onion, chopped. I also wanted to lighten the sauce a bit since it is all sausage, so I added 1 zucchini, cut into moon-shape. You can add vegetables of your choice if you like, such as mushrooms or bell peppers. 
Most of the times, sausage is sold in casings. To remove the casings, simply cut a slit down the sausage. Using your hands, carefully peel the outer layer off the meat. Discard the casing. 
sausage casing

I wanted the chunkiness of tomatoes in this sauce so I added one 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes in addition to the tomato puree and decreased the amount of water by half (add 3/4 cup of water instead of 1 1/2 cups). As the sauce cooks, the liquid from the crushed tomatoes helps thin out the tomato puree. Adjust the amount of water as it cooks. 

You also want to be careful with the seasoning for this sauce. Since sausage is already seasoned and can be quite salty, you won’t need that much salt. You can always fix under-seasoned sauce, but you can’t fix over-salted sauce. 

Make sure to skim the fat in your sauce. As it cooks, the fat from the sausage is released. Skim the pools of oil on top of the sauce.

pasta sauce

When you are cooking your pasta, cook just until al dente. You want some firmness to the pasta since it will continue to cook in the oven. 

The purpose of adding the olive oil to the cooked pasta is to prevent it from sticking to one another. If you cook the pasta ahead of time, make sure to drizzle the oil with the noodles.  

When the sauce is ready, add 1 cup to the penne and toss together. Pour into the baking dish and top with more sauce and the ricotta. This recipe called for creamy ricotta, which was referring to Food and Wine’s ricotta recipe. I cheated a little today and used already made ricotta, but by all means make fresh if you so desire!

baked penne with sausage and creamy ricotta
Although I love fresh mozzarella, I used shredded today and sprinkled a little on the top of the penne. 
baked penne with sausage and creamy ricotta
The recipe says to bake for 45 minutes, but I would check your pasta after 30 minutes to see the progress. My pasta came out a bit dark on top but once you dig your spoon in, it was still moist and soft in the middle. Overall, a simple but great dish. How can you go wrong with sausage and ricotta pasta? You can always bake this dish ahead of time and just reheat it before serving. 
baked penne with sausage and creamy ricotta
baked penne with sausage and creamy ricotta

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  1. This looks fantastic! It would make for a nice alternative to my usual go-to lasagna! 🙂

    • cma0425

      I think it’s actually easier to make than lasagna too!

  2. Looks amazing…..the perfect dish for guests!

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