2/21/21

No-Boil, No-Brown Italian Sausage & Pasta Bake

An easy one-dish recipe using uncooked pasta, raw sausage, pantry ingredients and fresh mozzarella that bakes into a cheesy, saucy Italian casserole with perfectly al dente pasta, browned sausage and gooey, melted cheese.

I recently saw a recipe for baked ziti using uncooked pasta and thought it sounded too good to be true - just dump and bake! It was a vegetarian recipe but I knew if I ever tried it, I’d want to add meat because my family would revolt if I tried to serve them supper without it.

Then I kinda tossed the idea aside because being a no-boil recipe wouldn’t really be that big of a time saver if I still had to cook the meat.

No-Boil, No-Brown Italian Sausage & Pasta Bake - An easy one-dish recipe using uncooked pasta, raw sausage, pantry ingredients and fresh mozzarella that bakes into a cheesy, saucy Italian casserole with perfectly al dente pasta, browned sausage and gooey, melted cheese.

And then I remembered my friend Carlee has a casserole recipe that uses raw sausage so I knew that was a possibility.

Hmmm...

So I decided to scratch out a recipe of my own, throw it in the oven and see what happened. I literally had to guess at how much sauce and liquid to use because I wanted to do things a little differently than the other recipes I'd seen and I had no idea how much it would take to A- cook the pasta properly and then B- leave the perfect amount of sauce in the dish (not too little, not too much).

No-Boil, No-Brown Italian Sausage & Pasta Bake - An easy one-dish recipe using uncooked pasta, raw sausage, pantry ingredients and fresh mozzarella that bakes into a cheesy, saucy Italian casserole with perfectly al dente pasta, browned sausage and gooey, melted cheese.

Well, after trying to do this weight-to-volume-slash-metric-conversion cooking math with pencil and paper after studying a few recipes I like, my brain shut down trying to convert the quantities of ingredients for 18 ounces of oven-ready lasagna noodles to 12 ounces traditional pasta and carry the 4 and add the 3 and oh, hell, I can't EVEN so I just went with my gut. That usually works best anyway.

And y’all, I’ve got to tell you… sometimes I cook stuff and you never see it because it’s a swing-and-a-miss and I don’t share recipes with y’all unless I genuinely love them and cook them again and again. But this one… this one was walk-off homer.

[yes, I love baseball]

No-Boil, No-Brown Italian Sausage & Pasta Bake - An easy one-dish recipe using uncooked pasta, raw sausage, pantry ingredients and fresh mozzarella that bakes into a cheesy, saucy Italian casserole with perfectly al dente pasta, browned sausage and gooey, melted cheese.

Husband came home right when I took my first taste and I jumped up and down and squealed and said some mess like oh my God you have to taste this it’s so good and I didn’t even know what I was doing and I nailed it like I really totally nailed it and this is what we’re eating for supper so forget I said we could get fried chicken because GREAT DAY seriously you have to taste this and you’re gonna love it and I got it right like I totally got it all right and I really didn’t even know if it would work!

And then he cocked up an eyebrow, scanned the kitchen like he was looking to see if there was an empty wine bottle and – I kid you not – asked me where the kids were.

DUDE! I’m not drunk or crazy or losing it, this is what I DO and when something like this happens I know I’m good at it! And don’t we all just really want to know that we’re good at what we do? Especially if it’s what we love?

Anyway, I’m over-the-moon happy with this and can’t wait for you to try it!

No-Boil, No-Brown Italian Sausage & Pasta Bake - An easy one-dish recipe using uncooked pasta, raw sausage, pantry ingredients and fresh mozzarella that bakes into a cheesy, saucy Italian casserole with perfectly al dente pasta, browned sausage and gooey, melted cheese.

HOW TO MAKE NO-BOIL, NO-BROWN ITALIAN SAUSAGE PASTA BAKE


The full recipe card is below but here’s the short list of ingredients:
  • Dry pasta
  • Jar of spaghetti sauce
  • Beef broth
  • Water
  • Spices
  • Uncooked Italian sausage
  • Mozzarella cheese

And here’s a quick preview of the easy steps:
  1. Add uncooked pasta to a baking dish
  2. Combine sauce, broth, water and seasonings then pour over pasta
  3. Top with chunks of raw Italian sausage and fresh mozzarella
  4. Cover and bake for 40 minutes then
  5. Uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes
No-Boil, No-Brown Italian Sausage & Pasta Bake - An easy one-dish recipe using uncooked pasta, raw sausage, pantry ingredients and fresh mozzarella that bakes into a cheesy, saucy Italian casserole with perfectly al dente pasta, browned sausage and gooey, melted cheese.

NOTES ABOUT THIS RECIPE

  • If you can’t find a 32-oz jar of spaghetti sauce, use the standard 24-oz jar PLUS an 8-oz can tomato sauce and a pinch of sugar (preferably a tomato sauce seasoned with Italian seasonings such as basil and garlic, otherwise add a little extra garlic and oregano when assembling the rest of the recipe).
  • I used orecchiette pasta which is similar to “shells” but a little thicker. I worry traditional shells might be too thin for this recipe. Good substitutes would be Farfalle (bowtie) or Mafalda (mini lasagna noodles – which I WISH were more easily available in my neck of the woods).
  • No, the sausage does not render a bunch of grease. I worried that it might but am happy to report to you that there was no grease swimming on top (as you can see in the photos).
  • Use fresh mozzarella balls such as the Bellgioioso Snacking Cheese (what I used here) or fresh mozzarella “pearls”. If neither of those are available, cut an 8-oz package of fresh mozzarella into approximately 24 cubes.
  • I used HOT Italian sausage (and always do) but mild or sweet would be amazing too.
  • Frozen meatballs could be used instead of sausage. 
  • My original recipe used 1 teaspoon of salt and was gloriously PERFECT when we first tasted it. I did find, however, that the leftovers tasted a little salty which might be due to the sauce and pasta leeching out salt from the sausage as the dish cooled to room temperature.
No-Boil, No-Brown Italian Sausage & Pasta Bake - An easy one-dish recipe using uncooked pasta, raw sausage, pantry ingredients and fresh mozzarella that bakes into a cheesy, saucy Italian casserole with perfectly al dente pasta, browned sausage and gooey, melted cheese.
no-boil, no boil, no-brown, raw, uncooked, dry, bake, casserole, italian, sausage, pasta, shells, orecchiette, penne, rigatoni, ziti, mozzarella, balls, pearls, easy, quick, one dish, one pan, best, how to, recipe, baked
Main Dish, Main Course, Dinner, Supper
Italian, Casserole
Yield: 6-8 Servings
Author: Mandy Rivers | South Your Mouth
No-Boil, No-Brown Italian Sausage & Pasta Bake

No-Boil, No-Brown Italian Sausage & Pasta Bake

An easy one-dish recipe using uncooked pasta, raw sausage, pantry ingredients and fresh mozzarella that bakes into a cheesy, saucy Italian casserole with perfectly al dente pasta, browned sausage “meatballs” and gooey, melted cheese.
Prep time: 5 MinCook time: 50 MinTotal time: 55 Min

Ingredients

  • 12 oz orecchiette pasta (or something similar)
  • 1 32 oz jar spaghetti or marinara sauce (see notes)
  • 1 14.5 oz can beef broth
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 5 Italian sausage links (1.25 lbs or so)
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella balls or pearls
  • Fresh grated parmesan and chopped parsley (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Spray a 3-qt 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray then arrange uncooked pasta evenly in the dish.
  3. Combine spaghetti sauce, beef broth, water, garlic powder, salt, pepper and oregano then stir well. Gently pour sauce mixture over pasta taking care to keep the pasta evenly spread throughout the pan.
  4. Remove casing from sausage links then pinch off 1-inch pieces and place evenly over pasta (yes, raw).
  5. Arrange mozzarella around sausage pieces.
  6. Cover dish tightly with two layers of aluminum foil then bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes.
  7. Remove foil then top dish with 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (if using). Continue baking, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until cheese and sausage are golden brown and most of the sauce has reduced.
  8. Let dish rest for 15 minutes before serving. If desired, top with more parmesan cheese and freshly chopped parsley.

Notes:

If you can’t find a 32-oz jar of spaghetti sauce, use the standard 24-oz jar PLUS an 8-oz can tomato sauce and a pinch of sugar (preferably a tomato sauce seasoned with Italian seasonings such as basil and garlic, otherwise add a little extra garlic and oregano when assembling the rest of the recipe).

I used orecchiette pasta which is similar to “shells” but a little thicker. I worry traditional shells might be too thin for this recipe. Good substitutes would be Farfalle (bowtie) or Mafalda (mini lasagna noodles – which I WISH were more easily available in my neck of the woods).

No, the sausage does not render a bunch of grease. I worried that it might but am happy to report that there was no grease swimming on top (as you can see in the photos). I used Johnsonville in this batch (which is my preferred brand and the one I use most) but have also used the store brand (Publix and Lowe's Foods) and have not had any issues.

Use fresh mozzarella balls such as the Bellgioioso Snacking Cheese (what I used here) or fresh mozzarella “pearls”. If neither of those are available, cut an 8-oz package of fresh mozzarella into approximately 24 cubes. 

I used HOT Italian sausage (and always do) but mild or sweet would be amazing too.

Frozen meatballs could be used instead of the sausage.

My original recipe used 1 teaspoon of salt and was gloriously PERFECT when we first tasted it. I did find, however, that the leftovers tasted a little salty which might be due to the sauce and pasta leeching out salt from the sausage as the dish cooled to room temperature.

I haven’t tested this recipe with other types of pasta. The size, shape and thickness of the pasta may affect how it cooks and absorbs the sauce. Here are a few tips if you run into trouble after the first 40 minutes of cooking:

- If the pasta is overly done and shouldn’t cook any longer, leave the oven door open then BROIL (instead of bake) the dish to brown the sausage and cheese (this will prevent the pasta from cooking as much as it would if following the recipe). 

- If the pasta isn’t close to being done, cover and continue cooking in 10-minute intervals until the pasta is al dente then continue to the final step. 

- If dish is dry and the pasta looks undercooked, add 1/2 cup of hot water then gently stir. Cover and continue cooking in 10-minute intervals until the pasta is al dente then continue to the final step. 

- If the sauce is too soupy when the recipe has finished cooking, uncover and let the dish rest for 30 minutes before serving. 

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No-Boil, No-Brown Italian Sausage & Pasta Bake - An easy one-dish recipe using uncooked pasta, raw sausage, pantry ingredients and fresh mozzarella that bakes into a cheesy, saucy Italian casserole with perfectly al dente pasta, browned sausage and gooey, melted cheese.


12 comments:

  1. This looks so delicious. It is early in the morning where I live and I could eat this for breakfast very easily......no problem.

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  2. This looks absolutely delicious!! I want to make but am worried about the grease from the raw sausage? Is that a problem?

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    Replies
    1. I didn't notice any grease at all. I used Johnsonville brand and don't typically find their Italian sauasge to be greasy.

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  3. This looks so delicious! The only thing I'm worried about is grease from the uncooked sausage. Was that an issue for you?

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    Replies
    1. I worried about that too! I used Johnsonville sausage and didn't notice any grease at all.

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  4. YUM! Using mozzarella pearls is genius. This looks so good!

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  5. Do you have any calories per serving?

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    Replies
    1. No, sorry, I didn't calculate it on this one.

      Delete
  6. This was not only SUPER EASY, it was delicious too!! Thank you for the quick, yummy recipe! You had every right to SQUEAL, and to be over-the-moon happy!!!

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  7. I'm sure this isn't what we'd consider 'light', 'low sodium', or 'low carb'.

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  8. Came together so easy and was delicious!!

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  9. Love this - so did my neighbors (I shared).
    Doctored the sauce a bit by adding 1 TBS tomato pastes, 1 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar, 1/4 tsp dried thyme and omitted the salt.

    This is a keeper and the left overs are great for breakfast!!! tee hee!!

    ReplyDelete

Hi there! While I’m not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven’t been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments.

I can tell you now 1) I have no idea if you can substitute Minute Rice or brown rice in my recipes because I’ve never used them and 2) If I know how to convert a recipe to a Crock Pot version, I will make a note about it (otherwise, I don’t know).

And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y’all! - Mandy