According to Wikipedia (which I accept as an absolute authority in all aspects of life, so don’t go putting anything weird on there), there are almost 200 different kinds/shapes of pasta. The list includes things like couscous and gnocchi, but a lot of the varieties on there are just different shapes of the same thing — spaghetti, penne, fusilli, ziti, cavatappi, etc., etc., etc.
With so many types of pasta being essentially the exact same thing, you wouldn’t think I could have such strong preferences for one over the other, but I DO. Linguine? Meh. Angel hair? Love it. Farfalle? Yuck. Orecchiette? Fine. Rotini? Love! Wagon wheel? Do I look like a cowboy? Seriously, the only difference between me and an eight-year-old who absolutely insists that the red M&Ms are better than the brown ones is…well, nothing. There is no difference. I am eight and irrational!
This yummy, comforting, cheesy baked pasta dish can, of course, be made with any short pasta you like, but I think mine was extra-good because I used fusilli.
BAKED PASTA WITH SAUSAGE, TOMATOES AND CHEESE (slightly adapted from Cooking Light)
1 (1-pound) package uncooked fusilli (or other short pasta)
1 pound hot turkey Italian sausage links
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
2 (14.5-oz.) cans petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta; set aside.
2. Remove sausage from casings. Cook sausage, onion, and garlic in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Add tomato paste, salt, pepper, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil. Place half of the pasta mixture in 4-quart casserole sprayed with cooking spray. Top with half of mozzarella and half of Parmesan. Repeat layers. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until bubbly.
Yum! I drained (but didn’t rinse) my sausage before adding the tomato paste, etc., to make it a little lighter. This is one of those super adaptable meals that you can do whatever you want with. And, if you’re looking for a new pasta shape, might I suggest this one?