Today I’ve got one of our family’s favorites for you: A dutch oven recipe for Italian Festival Bake. I will warn you that this is not health food. But it is yummy. In fact, this is my go-to recipe for company and everyone I have ever served it to has asked for the recipe. That always makes me laugh because it is really simple.
It’s based on a more homemade version my aunt makes, but I took a few short cuts from the store to make my life easier.
There are only four ingredients. You don’t have to have a dutch oven to do this (you could cook the pasta and meat on the stove, then transfer everything to a 13 x 9 baking dish) but one of the reasons I like using mine so much for this recipe is that it leaves me with less dishes to wash.
Ingredients: Rotini pasta, pasta sauce, shredded cheese, hot Italian sausage
*Sometimes I also add half of a package of frozen spinach that has been cooked and very well drained, so I don’t have to prepare a separate vegetable and it is truly a one pot meal.
First, cook the pasta three minutes less than the package recommends. (It will keep cooking in the oven later.)
I like to set aside a mug of the starchy pasta water to add back in later because it helps stretch out the sauce. (A trick from Rachael Ray)
Then drain the pasta and let it sit in the colander while you use your pot to brown the sausage. (I coat the pasta with a tiny bit of olive oil so it doesn’t start to stick to itself as it sits there.) Remove the casings from the sausages and brown the meat the same way you would brown ground beef.
Do not drain the meat. Turn off the heat on the stove. Add the pasta back to the pot, pour in the sauce and the mug of starchy water and stir everything up.
Top it with shredded mozzarella.
Put the lid on your dutch oven and bake it in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes.
It will come out looking like this.
It has been kid and husband approved.
For more dinner inspiration and dutch oven recipes, check out my recipes page.
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