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Summer Bowtie Pasta and Chicken Sausage Skillet Bake
How do you make pasta even better? Bake it! Whether it's classic baked ziti, tangles of baked spaghetti, or the creamiest chicken Alfredo bake, baked pasta takes a good thing and makes it better. That's the case with this pasta and chicken recipe, which combines bowtie pasta—that's farfalle to you—with marinara sauce, chicken sausage, zucchini, bell pepper, and spinach. Oh, and a boatload of mozzarella too, which is the key to the crispy, addictive crust on baked pasta.
And since we believe that summer dinners should be both quick and easy, this skillet pasta dinner requires just 8 ingredients (beyond salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil) so you can enjoy more of the good weather. Let the season be your guide to this dish, using whatever you have on hand. Swap in yellow squash for zucchini or poblano chiles instead of the red bell pepper. In place of baby spinach, try kale, collard greens, or Swiss chard. And, of course, any short pasta shape will work in place of the farfalle. Try fusilli, rigatoni, or penne instead.
(24-oz.) jar marinara sauce
extra-virgin olive oil, divided
cooked chicken sausage (any flavor)
medium zucchini (about 1 lb.), sliced into 1/4"-thick rounds
medium red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
cloves garlic, minced
(5-oz.) package baby spinach (about 5 packed c.)
fresh basil leaves, torn, plus more for serving
shredded mozzarella (about 12 oz.), divided
- Preheat oven to 375º. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, 2 to 3 minutes less than package instructions. Drain pasta and return to pot. Toss with marinara and set aside.
- In a large, high-sided, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add sausage and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden on both sides, about 3 minutes. Transfer sausage to pot with pasta.
- In same skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Cook zucchini, bell pepper, black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.
- Add garlic to skillet, and cook, stirring, until fragrant and golden, about 1 minute. Add spinach and cook, tossing, until wilted, about 2 minutes more. Scrape vegetable mixture into pot with pasta, add basil, and toss to combine; reserve skillet.
- Spoon half of pasta mixture into reserved skillet. Top with 1 1/2 cups mozzarella. Scrape remaining pasta mixture over and top with remaining 1 1/2 cups mozzarella.
- Bake until cheese is melted and top is golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. Top with more basil before serving.