I have a secret to share (I’ve been cheating on Pinterest with Instagram).🤫I’ve been a hardcore Pinterest devotee for years, however I find myself spending less time on there since joining “the gram.” I still refer to Pinterest often for recipes and guidance but have simply shifted my actual food viewing pleasures to a new forum.
Instagram features awe inspiring pics of food served at restaurants and made by both professional chefs and home cooks like me! You can also follow your favorite celebrity chefs to see what they’re up to. It’s fun for me to get a glimpse of their personalities and interests behind the camera, so to speak. Anyhoo, I recently saw a post about a sausage pasta bake and thought it looked simple and delicious, my fave kinda meal! Simplicious!👍
Sometimes the posts on Insta don’t include links or recipes so I went off the cuff on this one. I think the author mentioned andouille sausage which sounded intriguing to me. The dish also included some veggies so I decided to use spinach. Instead of my tried and true Ragu sauce, I opted to “make” my own sauce with a can of crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. I seasoned it with garlic pepper, Italian seasoning, coarse pepper and sea salt. I simmered it for a bit on the stove, tasted and approved. I actually may start doing this from now on.🤔 It’s a little cheaper than jarred sauce which is an added bonus.💰
I already had half a box of jumbo shells in the pantry so decided that would be my pasta vehicle for the dish. I also had about a cup and a half of shredded mozzarella in the fridge. I purchased a bag of baby spinach, the sauce ingredients and a pack of Zatairan’s andouille sausage from the grocery store. My plan was beginning to take shape. Now it’s time to cook!
While the sauce was simmering, I sautéed the spinach in two batches with olive oil and seasoned it with salt and pepper. Once wilted, I removed from the heat and set aside. I sliced the sausage into half inch coins and baked at 400 degrees for 18 minutes. I flipped at the 15 minute mark so both sides would be browned a bit but I didn’t want it too done because it will soon be baked as well. I placed the sausage on a paper towel to cool. Next, I boiled the pasta until just soft and drained.
I selected a deep glass baking dish and spooned a little sauce on the bottom. I place half of the shells on top and proceeded to tuck some spinach over In each one. I layered half the sausage over this, spooned over more sauce and sprinkled half the mozzarella. I repeated the layers once, covered with foil and then baked on 350 for 20 minutes. I uncovered the dish and baked for an additional 13 minutes until the top layer of cheese melted. I allowed it to rest for 15 minutes before diving in.
Results: There were a few steps involved in order to make this dish but they were all relatively easy. After prep, the hard labor is over and you just layer the ingredients like a lasagna and bake. The andouille presented a smoky, spicy element that really jazzed up the flavor. I typically associate andouille with Cajun fare but it worked very well here.
The pasta bake didn’t need any further spices in my opinion. Some sautéed pepper and onion would be a nice addition if you feel like adding another step. This was two thumbs up, super yum and tasted like a treat without breaking the bank. It is definitely repeat worthy and was also excellent for lunch the next day. See below for a condensed ingredient list and recipe. Thanks for reading!✌️💜🍴
Andouille Pasta Bake
You will need: 1/2 box of jumbo shell pasta, 1 bag of baby spinach, 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella, 1/2 pack of andouille sausage, 1 can crushed tomatoes, 1 can herbed tomato paste
To prepare: Boil pasta until al dente, drain. Combine crushed tomatoes and tomato paste in a sauce pan, season to taste and simmer down for at least 15 minutes. Slice one link of andouille sausage into coins, place on foil lined sheet pan and bake on 400 for about 15 minutes or so, turning over once. When done, take out and drain on paper towels. Turn oven temperature down to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in frying pan. Add half bag of baby spinach, salt, pepper and sauté until wilted. Repeat process with remainder of the bag then set aside. Spoon a few tablespoons of sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Add half the cooked pasta shells, spinach, sausage, another layer of sauce and cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Bake covered for 20 minutes, then uncovered for an additional 10-15 minutes until the cheese on top has sufficiently melted. Allow at least 10 minutes to firm and do its thang!😉😋🥳
Mood Ring Kitchen
I’m a self teaching home cook and aspiring foodie entrepreneur. I enjoy coming up with creative ways to prepare flavorful food such as snacks, desserts and everything in between. Cooking is a way for me to challenge myself and satisfy curiosities about different ingredients.
The hope is to produce something thoughtful, memorable or every once in a while maybe even wonderful. I enjoy following my “gut” and exploring new recipes that can be comforting, exciting and nourishing. Above all else, I enjoy exploring the emotions surrounding food and writing about those experiences. 😝👩🍳👩💻