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Million Dollar Baked Penne

This Million Dollar Baked Penne has been a family favorite for decades and is destined to become one of YOUR new family favorites!  It's loaded with hearty sausage, garlic infused tomato sauce and a hidden layer of creamy, gooey cheesiness that tastes like a million dollars AND it is quick and easy to make, fabulous for a crowd, freezes beautifully and doesn't break the bank!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8 -12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound penne pasta, uncooked
  • 6-8 slices provolone cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese more or less to taste
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese more or less to taste

Sauce

Instructions

  • Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions just until al dente – don’t overcook! Strain and rinse with cold water.
  • In a Dutch oven, brown ground beef, sausage and onion over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 30 more seconds. Drain grease. Add all remaining Sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees F. When oven reaches full temperate, mix cooked pasta with Sauce. (We wait to mix so the pasta doesn't continue to cook in the sauce.)
  • In a 9x13 pan, layer evenly: 1/2 the pasta, 1/2 mozzarella, all provolone, all sour cream, remaining pasta, remaining mozzarella and top with Parmesan.
  • Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted. Broil until cheese is golden. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

Notes

  • *You just need enough provolone to cover the 9x13 in a single layer. Typically 8 slices medium provolone or 6 large slices as pictured from Costco.
  • You can substitute the Italian sausage for lean ground beef.
  • You can substitute the penne for your favorite pasta.
  • It is very important to not overcook your pasta because it is going to continue to cook in the oven.
  • You are welcome to use store bought marinara if you are in a pinch but you will definitely want to add more seasonings and I promise the "homemade" version is very simple.  It really is as easy as cook the meat then dump in the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add veggies such as zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, etc. to the pasta sauce if you wish.

How to Make Baked Penne Ahead of Time

  1. Take care that your noodles are cooked al dente and are rinsed in cold water so they don't keep cooking.
  2. Assemble Baked Penne according to directions up until baking.
  3. Tightly cover Baked Penne with foil and refrigerate.
  4. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes then uncover and continue to bake and additional 20-30 minutes or until completely warmed through.

How to Freeze Baked Penne

You can freeze this Million Dollar Baked Penne, but just keep in mind that milk products tend to change in texture somewhat, so your cream cheese/sour cream center might seem slightly curdled after baking, but it will still taste the same.
To freeze Baked Penne:
  • Assemble Baked Penne according to directions but do not bake.
  • Allow penne to cool down completely before tightly covering with a double layer of heavy duty foil.
  • Layer penne and keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.
  • Bake penne from FROZEN.  Bake covered (with foil) for 60 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional  15-30 minutes OR until hot throughout.