Yes, I realize the name of this pasta is not descriptive at all, but it's the truth. In our house we actually call this "goat cheese pasta," but I didn't think that was a very helpful description either. Whatever you call it though, this dish is so incredibly simple to make. So simple, in fact, that my alternative name for it is "The Only Dish My Husband Can Make" and it's true. This is one dinner I know Sean can make, unassisted, with reasonable expectation for it to come out right every single time. For that, you know this is a great meal to make on busy nights.
This pasta is 4 ingredients and comes together in about the time it takes to boil water and cook pasta. Tangy goat cheese adds a creaminess to your favorite store-bought marinara and turkey sausage adds body and flavor. Sometimes when we're feeling fancy, I add frozen peas to the sauce right at the end, but most of the time we eat it as written below and it's always a meal that makes us both happy and satisfies our bellies.
I have to give a shoutout to Sean's cousin Elizabeth because she is the one who introduced me to this simple yet divine dish years and years ago. It has become a staple in our house and one of the 4 dishes Sean loves to eat on repeat. And like I said, it's so simple, even he can make it. And don't worry, he knows he's not great in the kitchen so he won't feel slighted by these comments.
I can't wait for you to try Sean's Favorite Pasta. Let me know what you and your family think!
Sean's Favorite Pasta
Makes 3-4 servings
Cook time: 25 minutes
Click the file below to download and print the recipe
I recommend reading the recipe all the way through, including the recipe notes at the bottom, before you start cooking.
1/2 box of rigatoni or other short cut pasta
3/4 jar of marinara sauce (about 18 oz.)
2 oz. goat cheese (log or crumbled)
3 hot Italian turkey sausage links* (or pork Italian sausage) or sweet/mild Italian sausage if you prefer
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package on the instructions.
While the water boils/pasta cooks, heat a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Using a knife or kitchen shears, cut the casing of the sausage and put the meat in the pan. Discard the casing. Break up the sausage with a large spoon or spatula and cook until fully cooked through. If needed, drain the excess fat from the meat and return the meat to the pan (this is usually only necessary with pork sausage, not turkey sausage).
With the pan with the sausage over low heat, slowly add the marinara and scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a spatula. Continuing cooking until the marinara is warm. If you like your sauce chunkier, add less marinara. If you like it saucier, add more.
Using a spoon or your fingers, break up the goat cheese and add it the marinara (if you're using crumbled goat cheese, just add it in as-is), stirring occasionally to melt the cheese into the sauce over low heat. Once all the cheese is melted into the sauce, turn the heat off.
Drain the pasta and spoon on the desired amount of sauce. Top with parmesan. Serve with garlic bread and a salad and enjoy!
*Recipe notes + Variations*
*I don't know why it matters, but the Italian sausage in the casings works better than the bulk sausage. I usually buy Jennie-O brand, but my local grocery store also makes their own hot Italian turkey sausage so I use that too.
Depending on how hungry your eaters are, I usually account for 1 sausage link per person. But if you have light eaters, kids, etc. it will be a little less than that. I make the recipe as above for the 2 of us and we have leftovers for lunch.
The turkey sausage has a great flavor just like pork sausage, but it is lighter, less fat, etc. I used to switch back and forth making it with pork or turkey. I have exclusively made it with turkey sausage for years now and I highly recommend it. If you use pork sausage, be sure to drain the fat from the pan before adding the marinara otherwise it will be far too oily.
Feel free to add in veggies to bulk this up a bit. I love adding frozen peas right at the end. They defrost and warm up quickly. No need to thaw them ahead of time. You can also wilt in some spinach to get some extra green in your diet.