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Wholesome Baked Penne with Basil & Turkey Sausage

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Here we are- into the first full week of October. Fall colors/decor are trickling into the shops everywhere, more and more each day it seems.  Along with the Fall feel comes Fall FOOD.  Everyone has one..that special dish that all you have to do if think about it and that feel good feeling rises in your stomach. That would be what is called a ‘comfort food’. Unfortunately, comfort foods are notorious diet busters: high in calories and saturated fat, and not to forget usually laden with sodium.  But don’t despair:  What have I always said about the word ‘diet’?  Humph.  No such thing ;) With a few of the many tricks up my sleeve, I’ve lightened up another classic recipe for it to fit within your desired calorie goals, while still incorporating the traditional (and favorite!) flavors that make the reasons why we love the dishes so.  For me, that comfort food feeling is really more of a blanket term, the casserole.  Ahh, there it is..that feeling. Bubbly, warm, and bursting at the seams with the perfect depth of flavor. I love casseroles, and I have a feeling you do too. They’re delicious, comforting meals, and an added bonus– most can often be made ahead. EVEN better. There is no better time than now to start with the cold weather comforts.  Who doesn’t love Sunday football with something hot and satisfying in your lap?  Whole-wheat penne noodles taste great in this recipe, plus they help boost the fiber to 9 grams, which is more than a third of the recommended daily intake and especially good news for a healthy (and happy) heart. 

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While dreaming up the wonders of the casserole dish, my mind began to stir. Series posting.. Comfort Casseroles?  Yes, please!  What do you look forward to in the upcoming fall months?  What casserole is your favorite?  I would LOVE to hear!!  In honor of your participation I am offering another giveaway to the very versatile CSN Stores dot com.  How about $30 to any of their 200+ stores, ranging in products from  home dining sets to pet supplies, and just about anything in between. 

Wholesome Baked Penne
with Basil & Turkey Sausage

1 (1-pound) package uncooked whole wheat penne
1 pound turkey Italian sausage links (hot or mild)
1 medium sweet yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) cans No Added Salt petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Italian Blend cheese (Asiago/Parmesan cheese)

Preheat oven to 350°.
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain the pasta, and set aside.  Remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage, onion, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and 2 cans tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil. Place half of the pasta mixture in a 4-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Top with half of mozzarella and half of Italian blend cheeses. Repeat layers. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

**If making ahead, do not preheat.  After layering pasta/turkey mixture in casserole dish, cover tightly and store refrigerated until ready for use.  When ready for consumption, allow to sit on counter for about 10-15 minutes while oven is preheating to 350 degrees. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Nutritional Information
Serves 8; 1 1/2 cups each 
Calories: 413
Fat: 11.8g
Protein: 24.1g
Carbohydrate: 53g
Fiber: 9.5g

To enter into the contest at hand- Its Simple! 
1.  Post a comment telling me about your favorite Fall food!
2.  Do just as above, and then do it again on Chocolate Broccoli’s Facebook Fan Page :)
3.  Lastly, Tweet about my contest on Twitter, tagging me @chocolatebroc

Any of the three ways listed will count as one entry!  More than one comment on here, FB, or Twitter will count for entries, too!!  Post your comments by Friday, October 8th at 5pm for your chance at $30 gift certificate. A winner will be announced on or before Monday, October 11th.  Good luck!

In the mean time, stay tuned for more Comfort Casserole Favorites!!! 


  1. That baked penne looks awesome. Dishes like that are at the top of my hubbys favs so I will try it out for him soon!

    Favorite fall food? Anything with pumpkin! I made up this recipe for pumpkin 'cookies' which are more like pumpkin muffin tops. Totally delicious, crazy healthy and super simple. What could be better than that?!

    Love your blog by the way, thanks for all the wonderful recipes :)

  2. My favorite fall food has got to be either my mom's corn chowder or pumpkin spice bread! YUM!

  3. The Dunaways says:

    this looks delish amber! i will have to try it shortly!

  4. I love a big pot of squash soup with butter breadsticks!!!
    tattgiff at centurytel dot net

  5. I commented on your fb page!
    tattgiff at centurytel dot net

    I also love ham spaghetti this time of year, it just fits the season.

  6. does candy corn count? ;) i love sweet potatoes and squash of any time!

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