Dinner, Food

Sausage and Mushroom Penne Gratin

When I started planning our meals for the week and talked to Mike about this recipe he sort of gave a half-hearted “Ok” and was a little unsure about it. I was a little afraid he wouldn’t like it. While I was cooking I heard “It smells really good” a couple of times and that got my hopes up.

I found this recipe on and modified it a tiny bit by adding onions, red pepper flakes and changing up the preparation a little. In the steps below I give the original prep and also how I did it. Ok, let’s get cooking!


  • 1 pound dried penne (I had a 12 ounce box and it was plenty!)
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage (remove the casing if you’re using links)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound packaged sliced mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, diced (optional – this wasn’t in the original recipe, I had an onion I needed to use)
  • 1 garlic clove, forced through a garlic press
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional – this wasn’t in the original recipe, I wanted to add a little heat)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 ounces shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese


Cook penne pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Make sure your pasta is done at the same time your sauce is done.

Preheat broiler.


Step 1: In a large non-stick skillet, cook sausage in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, over high heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces, until no longer pink. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl, leaving fat in skillet.

Step 2: Add remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet along with mushrooms, garlic (I added an extra clove of garlic), red pepper flakes (optional) and onions (optional). Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden. About 3 minutes.

Step 3: Return sausage to the skillet along with the cream, reserved 1/2 cup of pasta water, a 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper (or more to taste) and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 4 minutes. I varied the preparation here. The recipe says to put the cooked, drained pasta in a baking dish after it cooks, then pour this mixture on top of it and then stir in the Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. It made more sense to me just to mix everything together in this one pan and then transfer it to the baking dish. See next step.

Step 4:  Add the cooked pasta to the skillet, along with the Parmesan and half of the shredded mozzarella cheese. Mix together until the cheese is melted and incorporated completely. Add additional salt and pepper if needed.

Step 5: Transfer to a baking dish (I used a 9×13) and top with the remaining half of mozzarella cheese. I added a little more Parmesan on top also. Broil until golden brown in spots, about 3-5 minutes.

Plate up and enjoy!


This dish was hearty, filling and rich. I definitely recommend adding the red pepper flakes. They gave it just enough heat without bein too spicy. Mike loved it enough he said he’d eat it again. Another successful recipe in the books!

Thanks for reading!

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