Baked Mini Penne

1 lb. mini penne, cooked according to pkg direcetions
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups whole milk ricotta
1 cup Fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/3 to 1/2 cup Half and Half
1 lb. Italian sausage (I use a half and half mix of mild and spicy)
1 (32 oz) jar of your favorite marinara/spaghetti sauce (I prefer Prego Traditional)
3 oz. tomato paste
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup white wine
2 cloves of chopped garlic
1 small onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp Italian Seasonings
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water to stop cooking and set aside.
In a large pan, cook the sausage, onion, bell pepper and garlic over medium high heat until browned and cooked through. Drain excess grease. Return to cooking surface.
To the sausage mixture, add seasonings, tomato paste, marinara sauce and white wine. Simmer for 6 – 8 minutes. Stir in Half and Half.
Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish Add 1 cup of the sauce to the bottom of the dish. Top with a generous amount of ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella.
Combine pasta with remaining sauce. Spread half of the pasta mixture over the ricotta mixture. Top pasta with another generous dose of ricotta, 1/4 cup Parmesan and 1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella. Add remaining pasta to the dish and pour 1/2 cup of milk evenly over the top. Top with remaining Parmesan and ricotta. Finish with fresh sliced Mozzarella.
Bake covered in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes until top is bubbling.
I usually make this dish in the morning and keep in the fridge until I am ready to bake it in the oven that evening. In that case, I wait to add the milk before baking. Also, you will want to add 15-20 minutes to the covered baking time. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.

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