We don't usually have pasta twice in a week but we had some leftover tomato/vodka sauce to use as well as some pork that was waiting to be ground into Italian sausage. It was a gray sort of day & a gooey baked pasta sounded perfect. I also had some zucchini in the crisper so I decided it couldn't hurt to throw something green in. This turned out wonderful, I think I like it better than our lasagna. The creaminess of the vodka sauce, the fennel flavor of the sausage & the melted cheese were so good togheter we had to stop ourselves from eating it all in one sitting. We especially like the crispy pasta on top.
Matt did some research into different Italian sausage spices mixtures & came up with a different one for this batch. I think it was much better than the Alton Brown recipe we used before. This one had a little more depth.
Italian Sausage Spice
1/2 t garlic powder
1 T fennel seeds
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1 t kosher salt
1 t paprika
Mix with 1 lb ground pork. If grinding the pork yourself mix in with the meat when you run it through the grinder. This is a sweet sausage, add crushed red pepper flakes to make a hot sausage.
Baked Penne with Sausage & Zucchini
8 oz dry penne
1/2 lb bulk Italian sausage
1 cup tomato/vodka sauce
1 & 1/8 cup grated mozzarella
Grease a 5 x 6 glass baking dish with a little olive oil. Preheat oven to 375 F. Cook the penne until al dente according to the directions. Drain & set aside. Meanwhile cook the Italian sausage, drain any excess grease and set aside. Cut the zucchini into quarters lenghwise then into 1/2 pieces. Mix the penne, sausage, zucchini, tomato sauce, & 1 cup mozzarella together. Put mixture into prepared baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella & some grated parmesan. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is bubbly & brown.