Italian Sausage and Ricotta Pasta Bake
375g firm ricotta
1 small red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Zest of 1 lemon
120ml Bertolli Originale Extra Virgin Olive Oil
250g dried penne pasta
4 Italian pork sausages, meat squeezed from skins and broken into small chunks
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
100g baby spinach
50g each grated tasty, mozzarella and parmesan cheese
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat conventional oven to 180ºC. Line a baking tray with foil.
In a large bowl combine ricotta, chilli, thyme and half the lemon zest. Season and mix well. Using clean hands, compress the ricotta into a ball, press gently onto the prepared tray and drizzle with 60ml of the olive oil. Bake for 30 mins until light golden then allow to cool.
Cook pasta according to packet instructions. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water then add to a large bowl with reserved water and toss to coat.
Heat remaining oil in a large frypan and cook sausage pieces until golden. Transfer sausage pieces and oil to the bowl with the pasta. Add garlic, chilli flakes and spinach. Season and toss to combine.
Roughly break up the baked ricotta and add to the bowl, tossing gently.
Transfer the pasta mixture to a large baking tray, top with grated cheese blend then bake at 180ºC for 15-20 mins or until cheese melts and is golden and pasta is just heated through. Serve immediately.