Taking just an hour or so on Sunday to prep meals can save so much time and hassle during the week. It can REALLY save me after a 12 hour day. On Wednesdays, I am gone from about 7:30 am to 7:30 pm. Needless to say, when I get home I'm starving and exhausted, and I have no intention of standing in front of the stove and preparing a meal. If I don't have anything prepared, it's hard to avoid going down the street to the neighborhood pub (that just so happens to have 35 cent wings on Wednesdays...) where we'll eat and spend too much. So, I try to have something that's ready to go! For this pasta dish, I just put it in the fridge and leave a note for my boyfriend to have it ready when I get home.
Then I get to walk in to a hot and ready dinner! And this one is soo satisfying - almost as good as wings!
Here's how to make it:
Prepare 10 ounces of whole wheat penne pasta according to pasta directions until al dente.
Meanwhile, cook 1 pound of spicy Italian chicken sausage in 1 tablespoon of butter for 12-14 minutes, or until browned.
Right before the sausage is done, add 2 cloves minced garlic. Cook for 30 seconds longer, then turn off heat.
Use tongs to place the sausage on a cutting board. Pour the remaining butter and garlic into the bottom of a very large bowl. Cut the sausage into bite-sized pieces. Cut a cup of grape tomatoes into quarters.
Place one bag of baby spinach in the bottom of your strainer, then drain the al dente pasta onto the spinach, letting the steam wilt it.
Add the sausage, tomatoes, pasta, and spinach into the large bowl with the garlic.
Add in remaining ingredients: 1 cup of prepared tomato sauce (I use Prego roasted garlic), 3/4 cup plain greek yogurt, 1 cup (less if you're not cheese-obsessed like me) shredded mozzarella, 1/4 cup milk, salt, pepper, red pepper, and garlic powder.
Mix well. I could just eat this straight out of the bowl.
Top with another 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella. Yeah, you could definitely cut back on the cheese. But it's soooo good.
When you're ready, put it in a 375 degree oven covered for about 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook for 10 minutes longer, allowing the cheese to melt well.
Light Pasta Bake with Chicken Sausage, Mozzarella, Spinach & Tomatoes
For 5-6 servings
-10 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
-1 lb spicy Italian chicken sausage
-1 5-6 oz. bag baby spinach
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 cup chopped grape tomatoes
-1 cup prepared tomato sauce (e.g., Prego)
-3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
-1/4 cup milk-1 and 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or less if desired)
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (less or none if you don't like spicy)
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
-Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.
-Cook chicken sausage in 1 tbsp butter over medium heat for 12-14 minutes, or until browned. When almost done, add in garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Turn off heat and remove sausage with tongs, placing on cutting board. Slice into bite-sized pieces. Pour remaining butter and garlic into a very bowl.
-Place the spinach in the bottom of your pasta strainer. When pasta is done, pour pasta and pasta water over the spinach into the strainer, allowing the spinach to wilt slightly.
-Chop grape tomatoes into quarters, for a total of 1 cup.
-Pour pasta, sausage, spinach, and tomatoes into bowl with garlic.
-Add tomato sauce, yogurt, milk, 1 cup of the cheese, and spices to bowl. Mix very well. Pour into casserole dish. Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Cover dish with foil.
-Cook for 30 minutes covered. Remove foil, cook for an additional 10 minutes.
P.S. In the mood for something a little different, but equally delicious? Try my lightened up chicken, roasted broccoli, and mozzarella pasta bake!