Cream Cheese and Sausage Pasta Bake: A Symphony of Flavor
Get ready to elevate your pasta game with our Cream Cheese and Sausage Pasta Bake – a rich and flavorful dish that combines the creaminess of cream cheese, the savory goodness of Italian sausage, and the comforting embrace of perfectly cooked pasta. This indulgent pasta bake is a one-way ticket to pasta paradise, and the best part is, it’s surprisingly easy to make. Join us on a culinary adventure as we guide you through crafting this irresistible pasta masterpiece.
12 oz tubular pasta, like penne, ziti, or rigatoni
1 lb ground mild Italian sausage
½ cup heavy cream
4 oz cream cheese
1 (24 oz) jar tomato-basil pasta sauce
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes with juices
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Step 1: Cook the Pasta
Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
Cook the tubular pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Step 2: Brown the Sausage
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add ground Italian sausage and cook until browned, breaking it apart with a spoon as it cooks.
Step 3: Add Aromatics
Stir in minced garlic and cook for an additional minute until fragrant.
Step 4: Create the Creamy Base
Add heavy cream and cream cheese to the skillet, stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the mixture is creamy.
Step 5: Combine with Sauce
Pour in the tomato-basil pasta sauce and diced tomatoes with their juices. Mix until well combined.
Season with kosher salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes if desired. Adjust to taste.
Step 6: Assemble the Bake
In a large baking dish, combine the cooked pasta and the sausage mixture. Mix until the pasta is evenly coated.
Top the mixture with shredded mozzarella cheese and fresh basil.
Step 7: Bake to Melty Perfection
Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and the edges are golden brown.
Step 8: Serve and Enjoy
Allow the pasta bake to cool for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with additional fresh basil if desired.
Cook Notes and Variations
Vegetarian Twist: Substitute the Italian sausage with plant-based alternatives for a vegetarian version.
Cheese Lover’s Delight: Add extra cheese varieties like Parmesan or provolone for an even more decadent experience.
Pasta Swap: Experiment with different pasta shapes or use whole wheat pasta for a healthier twist.
Keto and Low-Carb Versions
Replace the tubular pasta with zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice for a low-carb alternative.
Use a keto-friendly tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.
Opt for almond milk or coconut cream instead of heavy cream.
Choose a low-carb pasta substitute like shirataki noodles or konjac pasta.
Use a low-carb tomato sauce or make your own with fresh tomatoes and herbs.
Reduce the amount of onions and tomatoes to lower the carb content.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1: Can I use spicy Italian sausage?
Absolutely! Feel free to use spicy Italian sausage if you prefer a bit of heat in your pasta bake.
Q2: Can I prepare this dish ahead of time?
Certainly! Assemble the pasta bake, cover it, and refrigerate it until you’re ready to bake. Adjust the baking time accordingly.
Q3: Can I freeze Cream Cheese and Sausage Pasta Bake?
Yes, you can freeze it before or after baking. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in the oven.
Q4: Can I use dried basil instead of fresh?
While fresh basil provides a vibrant flavor, you can substitute with dried basil. Use about 1 teaspoon of dried basil for every tablespoon of fresh.
Q5: What can I serve with this pasta bake?
It pairs well with a side salad, garlic bread, or roasted vegetables for a complete and satisfying meal.
Indulge in the luscious symphony of flavors that our Cream Cheese and Sausage Pasta Bake offers – a dish that seamlessly combines the richness of cream cheese, the heartiness of Italian sausage, and the comforting warmth of perfectly baked pasta. Whether you’re serving it for a cozy family dinner or impressing guests at a gathering, this pasta bake is sure to be a hit. Customize it with your favorite variations, explore the keto or low-carb options, and make each bite a celebration of culinary delight. Get ready to savor the creamy, cheesy perfection in every forkful!