Looking for Jimmy Dean sausage recipes? Don't miss this delicious and easy Italian sausage pasta casserole. It's the perfect make-ahead dinner for busy families.
Ahhh. The holiday season craziness is set to begin. Welcome to the time of year when any time-saving short cut is gratefully received by over-scheduled moms everywhere. Dinner is stressful enough during the normal parts of the year but in the coming weeks, it becomes a downright pain in the neck.
With Thanksgiving next week, you're likely prepping an enormous feast of fancy foods for family and friends. All the best advice regarding that meal calls for make-ahead dishes you can have ready to go. But if you make them ahead, that's eating into the time you might have reserved for making THAT evening's dinner.
My favorite strategy for ensuring I have enough time with my family while still getting food to the table is to cook double-batch casseroles I can have ready in a pinch. We eat a portion of the dinner on the night I make it but then I freeze the second casserole for another stress-free dinner.
My mom has been making and serving this cheesy Italian sausage and spinach casserole for years. It is her go-to mommy meal dish and everyone raves over it.
How to make the easiest Jimmy Dean sausage recipes for your busy family:
The superstar of this casserole is the Jimmy Dean pork sausage found in the refrigerator section. It comes in several flavors, but for this bulk Italian sausage recipe I prefer the regular style since I can add Italian seasonings to match the final dish.
On top of being freezer-friendly, this meal is almost a pantry staples dish. If you can remember to grab the Jimmy Dean sausage, a large container (or 2 bags) of fresh spinach, and have an onion on hand, you're ready to go. Everything else is likely hiding in your pantry right now.
While the sausage makes it decadent, the copious amounts of spinach give it a nutritional boost. Our favorite side dish to go with it is freshly chopped up pineapple. Those flavors complement it perfectly and keep things nice and easy.
You simply brown up the Jimmy Dean sausage in a large skillet. Add some seasonings, a diced onion and some fresh garlic. Pour in some chicken stock and then wilt the fresh spinach right in the pan.
Once the spinach has wilted, add a touch of cream for richness. Toss together with the pasta and you're all set!
My mom and I love to split this into the two small casserole pans. If you are going to freeze it, mom suggests freezing it BEFORE baking but said to be sure to really let it thaw well in your fridge overnight before you bake it.
Sprinkle on some fresh parmesan cheese before you wrap it in aluminum foil for the freezer.
If it is heading straight to the oven, you still want to cover it with the foil before baking. Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes so the cheese has a chance to turn golden brown.
While it's baking, chop up your pineapple. So easy!
I always feel like I've hit the jackpot when we have a busy night and I've got one of these dishes waiting for me in the freezer. I can spend more time with the kids helping with homework or working on a holiday craft knowing that dinner is handled with almost no cleanup.
Other great Jimmy Dean sausage recipes your family will love:
Our family loves to use bulk Italian sausage, here are several great places for you to use up your Jimmy Dean sausage:
- The best spicy sausage and lentil soup recipe for kids
- Deliciously easy sausage egg and cheese casserole
- Swedish meatball inspired sausage dip with tater tot dunkers
- Sweet roasted red pepper lasagna with spicy sausage
- Our new favorite Spiced Sausage Rolls
- 1 lb Jimmy Dean bulk sausage
- 1 chopped onion
- 3 cloves fresh garlic
- ½ tsp Italian seasoning
- freshly ground pepper
- heavy sprinkle of roasted red pepper flakes
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ⅓ cup cream
- 2 bags or one large plastic tub of washed baby spinach
- 1 box of pasta shells
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Set a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta for 5-6 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking.
- Brown and crumble the sausage in a large skillet. Be sure it is golden brown or it will be rubbery when you bake it. Add the chopped onion, garlic, and seasonings and sauté until onions are translucent.
- Pour in the chicken stock, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a gentle simmer.
- Add the fresh spinach on top of the sausage and cover the pan with a lid. When the spinach has wilted, gently stir to combine. Pour in the heavy cream.
- Gently toss the pasta together with the sausage mixture and then evenly divide into 2 8x8 freezer friendly dishes or 1 9x13 baking dish.
- Sprinkle top with fresh parmesan cheese.
- IF FREEZING: Cover in tin foil and freeze. To bake, thaw overnight in fridge and then bake as directed.
- IF BAKING IMMEDIATELY: Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Remove the tin foil cover and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
- Serve with fresh pineapple.