Baked Penne with Sausage, Beef and Red Wine Sauce

This baked penne dish has quickly become a favorite in our household – we first made it last weekend – and, in this modified version, again today.

It’s a great comfort food dish. Takes me about an hour to prepare it from start to serving. The inspiration for this recipe came from Lynne Char Bennett’s column in the San Francisco Chronicle titled “Dry Creek Zinfandel makes a penne-wise partner” – January 23, 2009.

I’ve modified the recipe to a) reduce the mushrooms, b) add red wine to the sauce, and c) simmering the sauce longer to reduce the extra liquid (from the wine addition) and concentrate its richness – along with some other minor tweaks. But the core of the recipe remains Bennett’s.


  • Olive oil (1-2 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 pound mild Italian sausage
  • 1/2 pound lean (96/4) ground beef
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (1 small onion)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 pound sliced mushrooms (cremini if available, otherwise just white)
  • 2 tsp brandy (cheap will do fine!)
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes (with basil, oregano – or Italian seasonings)
  • 1 cup red table wine (Zinfandel preferred but any will do!)
  • 1 tsp majoram (dried)
  • 1 tsp oregano (dried)
  • 1 tsp basil (dried)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Italian flat-leaf parsley (fresh, minced)
  • 1-1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese


  1. Heat oil on large skillet over medium-high heat – I use a large, 12-inch All-Clad Stainless Nonstick Fry Pan. Brown sausage and ground beef, seasoning to taste. Break the meat up into smaller pieces as it browns.
  2. After the meat is mostly browned, push the meat to one side of the skillet and add the onion – cook until translucent about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook briefly.
  3. Add mushrooms to the onion-garlic mixture. Season to taste. Cook about 5 minutes until mushrooms are tender.
  4. Stir together the meat and mushrooms. Add brandy and cook for about a minute.
  5. Add the can of crushed tomatoes, the red wine, oregano, basil and marjoram to the skillet. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally. Let sauce simmer for 25-30 minutes until richer and thicker. Taste and adjust seasonings along the way.
  6. While sauce is simmering, preheat over to 350 degrees. Boil salted water for the pasta – cook about 12 minutes in boiling water. Drain, mix into sauce along with the Parmesan cheese and the Italian parsley. Mix well together.
  7. Spoon mixture into 9-by-13 inch casserole disk, top with the grated Gruyere cheese and bake for 15 minutes until cheese has melted. Remove from oven and serve immediately.


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