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Pasta Rustica with Sausage

Pasta Rustica with sausage is the ultimate comfort food! It is right up there with Short Rib Ragu and Pasta al Forno as one of my favorite cold day meals. This version of a southern Italian favorite is tossed with a simple tomato and sausage sauce, and three cheeses; mozzarella, fontina and pecorino romano! This is a dish will have the whole family begging for more!

Baked penne pasta with cheese, tomatoes and sausage.

I have made this baked pasta twice in the last two weeks because my family can’t get enough of it! My husband’s exact word’s were, “this is addicting…I can’t stop eating it!” I think the sausage is what really makes this dish stand apart from all other baked pasta recipes. If you like it in this dish you will love it in my Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Sausage!

About some of the ingredients you need

Labeled ingredients: crushed tomatoes, pasta, olive oil, fontina, parmesan, mozzarella, sausage, herbs, eggs, onions, garlic and red pepper flakes.

Pasta: You can use any shape of pasta that you like. I prefer a short pasta like penne or rigatoni, but any shape that your family loves will work. Select a good quality pasta and cook it to just before it reaches al dente. A heavier or thicker pasta will need to cook a little longer.

Italian Sausage: I love the robust flavor that the Italian sausage brings to the sauce! I like to use sweet sausage so I can control the spice level in the sauce. Hot Italian sausage can be substituted. If you do use the hot version , I would recommend tasting the sauce before adding the red pepper flakes.

Mozzarella and Fontina: I like to use whole milk cheese but you can use a low fat, or a low moisture version of either of the mozzarella or the fontina.

Pecorino Romano: I love the saltiness that the pecorino brings to this pasta dish, but parmesan can be used in place of it. Sometimes I combine the two and use an equal amount of each to measure a total of 3/4 cups.

Beaten Egg: The egg acts as a binder and helps to hold the pasta, sauce and cheese all together as it bakes. It is not necessary to use the egg if you don’t want to, but the dish will be a little looser without it. It does not change the flavor of the dish in way if you omit it.

How to make this recipe

This recipe is really pretty easy so don’t shy away from trying this during the week.

Start by cooking the pasta according to package directions. While the pasta cooks you can quickly make the sauce.

Browning sausage in a pan with onion, garlic and red pepper flakes.

Brown the sausage with the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes.

Once the sausage is no longer pink, add the diced tomatoes, oregano and basil. Stir and season with salt and pepper.

Penne pasta tossed with sauce and cheese.

When the pasta is almost al dente, drain it completely and transfer it to a large bowl. Toss with the sauce, cheese and beaten egg (optional) and pour it into a greased baking dish.

Baked pasta with melted cheese and sauce.

Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese melts and the top of the pasta starts to brown and get crispy.

What can you serve with Pasta Rustica and Sausage?

This recipe is pretty satisfying on it’s own so all you really need is a fresh salad to make it a complete meal. If you really want to round out your menu you can add an Italian dessert such as The Best Tiramisu Trifle or Mousse al Cioccolato (Italian Chocolate Mousse)


What does “al dente” mean?

This is an Italian term that literally means “to the tooth” and it is used to refer to cooking pasta until it is still firm when it is bitten into.

What is the difference between Pecorino Romano and Parmesan Cheese?

Although they are both hard cheeses that are primarily grated, parmesan is made of cow’s milk and pecorino romano is made of sheep’s milk. Parmesan is aged longer and is nuttier in flavor while pecorino is brighter and saltier in taste.

A dish of baked pasta with sauce and cheese.

Other pasta recipes you will love!

Bucatini alla Carbonara

Caprese Pasta with Fresh Mozzarella

Italian Pasta Broccoli

Easy Pasta con le Sarde

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad

Tomato Cauliflower Pasta Sauce

A casserole dish filled with baked pasta in a tomato and sausage sauce with melted cheese.

Pasta Rustica with Sausage

This is the ultimate comfort food! Pasta tossed and baked in a tomato and sausage sauce and three cheeses.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 791 kcal


  • 1 lb Penne Pasta
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Onion diced
  • 2 clove Garlic minced
  • ¼ tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 lb Italian Sausage sweet, casings removed
  • 28 oz Diced Tomatoes with juice or sauce
  • ½ tsp Oregano dried
  • 1 tsp Basil fresh, chopped
  • 2 cups Whole Milk Mozzarella Cheese Shredded
  • 2 cups Fontina Cheese Shredded
  • ¾ cup Pecorino Romano Cheese grated
  • 1 Egg beaten
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste


  • Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water that has been generously salted. The pasta should be cooked to almost al dente.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Prepare a 9"x13" baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray.
  • While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the sausage and break it apart with a wooden spoon.
  • When the sausage is cooked about half way, add the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes. Continue to cook until the sausage is no longer pink.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, oregano and basil to the sausage. Stir well and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Once the pasta is cooked to almost al dente, drain it completely and transfer it to a large bowl. Add the sauce, 1 ½ cups of mozzarella, 1½ cups of fontina and ½ cup of pecorino romano. Toss together. Then add the egg and mix well.
  • Pour the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Mix the remaining, mozzarella, fontina and pecorino cheese and sprinkle over the top of the pasta.
  • Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese has melted and starts to brown a bit.
  • Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.


Note:  The beaten egg helps to bind the pasta, but you can omit it if you like.
Parmesan cheese can be used to substitute the Pecorino Romano, or you can combine the two cheese. 


Serving: 6servingsCalories: 791kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 41gFat: 55gSaturated Fat: 25gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 178mgSodium: 1490mgPotassium: 564mgFiber: 3gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 904IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 633mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Pasta, tomatoes, sausage, mozzarella, fontina, pecorino romano
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