Remember that Crock Pot Arrabbiata Sauce I shared with you recently? Well, as promised, here is the tasty little meal that it was created for!
This Penne allArrabbiata with Sausage and Eggplant is my go-to dinner during the busy spring and summer months. Why? Because not only is it loaded with fresh veggies, but it comes together in a flash! Roasted eggplant, Italian turkey sausage, red bell peppers, and pasta are all tossed together in a spicy sauce and baked with lots of ooey-gooey fresh mozzarella cheese. I hope you brought your appetite!
Doesnt this look like the perfect meal to sit outside and enjoy on a warm summer night?
Well, funny thing about that. I was outside on the front porch taking these pictures just before dinner one night (trying to steal the last few rays of natural sunlight) when up pulled a caravan of cars across the street. Out popped a herd of people, realtor in tow, to take a look at my neighbors house that was on the market.
If seeing a grown woman on her porch taking pictures of pasta surprised them, they clearly didnt try to hide it. They walked awkwardly up the driveway, almost afraid to turn their back on me (I dont know if that was out of curiosity or concern). Even from across the street I could see them throwing what the heck is she doing maybe we should leave terrified glances my way.
And leave they did. Quickly.
Did I mention that I was wearing an apron? And slippers? Yeh. Looking back, maybe it was my totally on-point fashion sense that intimidated them, not the fact that I was on my porch taking pictures of pasta.
In any case, once the convoy of onlookers departed and the photo shoot wrapped up, the whole family retreated to the patio for a little alfresco dining. The beauty of this Penne allArrabbiata with Sausage and Eggplant is that because every element is homemade, you can control the heat level. When making this with kids in mind, its easy to dial down the spice a notch or two to make it more suitable for younger taste buds.
The fact that I was willing to totally embarrass myself in order to take pictures to share with you should be an indicator of just how good this one is! Egos have to take a backseat when it comes to food blogging a lesson Ive learned over the last year. I dont care if having a food photo shoot in my front yard makes me look like a crazy person. If thats what it takes to get the perfect shot, then crazy person I shall be (not that my pictures are perfect by any stretch of the imagination).
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & pepper (for the eggplant and the sausage, to taste)
- 1.25 lbs Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (I’ve used hot and mild sausage, and they both work great in this recipe)
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 red bell peppers, chopped
- 16 oz Penne pasta (we used a gluten free variety)
- 2 cups Crock Pot Arrabbiata Sauce
- ¼ cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
- Several ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese
- Preheat your oven to 400*.
- Slice (and discard) the skin from the eggplant, then chop the eggplant into 1″ cubes. Toss with 1 TBS of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread into a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven until the pieces are soft and golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Reduce the oven temp to 375*, and bring a salted pot of water to boil for the pasta. Cook the Penne al dente according to package directions. Before draining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside.
- Then, in a large saute pan over medium heat, cook the turkey sausage in the remaining 1 TBS of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and break up the sausage to form small crumbles as it cooks.
- Once the sausage is fully cooked, add the onion, garlic, and bell peppers. Continue to cook until the peppers have softened slightly.
- To the sausage mixture add the cooked Penne and Arrabbiata sauce. Stir, reduce heat and let it simmer for 1-2 minutes. NOTE: If the sauce seems a bit thick, you can add some of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up a bit.
- Then, remove from heat and gently stir in the roasted eggplant pieces and fresh basil.
- Pour the pasta into a 9×13 baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese, cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is hot and bubbly.
- Serve warm and garnish a sprinkle of fresh basil. Enjoy!