For me the holidays are all about tradition. As a child one of my favorite traditions was Christmas Eve. Every year on Christmas Eve we would get dressed up and go to church for a Christmas Eve service. When we were really young we would go to the nativity play and once we were older we would go to the candlelight service that usually ended at midnight.
I loved going to church but the best part was going to my grandparents house after church. My entire family would go and we would be all dressed up and there would be tons of food. I think every great holiday tradition revolves around food. There would always be a huge meat and cheese tray for sandwiches, lots of side dishes, and plenty of desserts. We would eat and hang out as a family. I have great memories of those times.
Now I live several hours away from my family but my husband and I have been making new traditions. While we might not get dressed up, go to church, and go to our grandparents, we still have a Christmas Eve tradition. Now my husband and I get into our pajamas and enjoy a delicious meal. After eating we go out into the living room and sit in front of the fire which is next to the Christmas tree. It’s a wonderful time that we spend together.
This year I’ll be making pasta for our Christmas Eve meal. I think warm, inviting pasta is the perfect meal to enjoy the night before Christmas. I wanted to make baked penne but it needed a little something added to it in order to make it special enough for the holiday. I decided to make it red and green to help celebrate Christmas.
I made the penne pasta and topped it with my favorite Ragu pasta sauce. Did you know Ragu came from a family recipe of Assunta Cantisano? It is still slow simmered just like Assunta used to make it in the 1930’s. Having a great sauce is always the base of a good pasta recipe.
After combining the pasta and Ragu pasta sauce I added in spinach, spicy sausage, and onions. Finally I mixed cheese into the pasta and put more on top. The resulting pasta was a delicious combination of the spicy sausage, melted cheese, and fresh spinach. It’s perfect for an easy but tasty meal.
- 12 oz. penne pasta
- ½ lb. andouille sausage (or other spicy sausage)
- ½ onion, chopped
- 2 c. fresh spinach, stems removed
- 1 t. black pepper
- ½ t. salt
- 1 jar (24 oz.) favorite Ragu pasta sauce
- ¾ c. Asiago cheese, shredded
- ¾ c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large saucepan being water to a boil over high heat and cook penne according to the package directions. Drain and pour into prepared pan.
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, add the sausage. Saute for 5-7 minutes, stirring to crumble, or until browned. Add the onion to the pan and saute for 3 minutes.
- Add the spinach, pepper, and salt and saute for an additional 3 minutes or until spinach just begins to wilt. Remove from stove.
- Pour the spinach and sausage mixture into the pan with the pasta and mix well. Pour in the Ragu sauce and mix well. Add the Asiago cheese and mix until combined.
- Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top.
- Put the dish in the oven for 25 minutes until cheese is browned and melted. Remove from the oven and enjoy immediately.
I’ve shared my family traditions and now it’s time to share yours! Make sure to visit the Ragu website and read all about Assunta Cantisano and her tradition which became Ragu pasta sauce then leave a comment and share your family’s traditions!