Sausage Pasta Cheese Bake

It is summer and hot as heck (at times)  but you still gotta eat supper every day. Tonight I threw together a modified pasta bake that was quick to make, and, although it wasn’t too pretty to look at, the flavor was delicious and I know I want to make it again. This entrée used Italian sausage liberated from its casing.  It is a rustic Italian delight and all you need is a green salad and you have a satisfying meal to enjoy. My oven is well insulated so it really didn’t make my house feel that hot. The stove top portion is about 15 minutes worth of cooking, again, not too excessive in my book.

You could make this with spicy Italian sausage if that is more your style. Mushrooms are optional but I love the flavor they add. You could use spiral pasta. I, of course, used gf pasta; this time it was Aldi’s store brand which is inexpensive and has a great flavor. This bake seems slightly dry but the cheese makes a delightful bit of sauce with the tomatoes and veggies.  You don’t need to have a lot of tomato sauce to taste that Italian pasta bake flavor. Summer pasta on a plate! Leftovers are highly anticipated by me… I won’t have to cook much this week. Win win! If you have a big family this might be a go to recipe to quickly toss together and please the kiddos and the dad!

I know; not impressive but trust me; the flavor is building!
Another less than inspiring picture; just imagine it all melty and gooy with that yummy sausage sauce mixed in.

Angie’s Penne, Sausage and Cheese Bake

Ingredients

5 Italian sausage links, uncased (1 pound)

Cooking spray

1 large red or yellow onion, diced

1 large carrot diced

3 large cloves of garlic; put through the garlic press

1 14oz can diced tomatoes and juice

Rounded half tsp of sea salt, dried basil and dried oregano

A few grinds of black pepper

3 cups uncooked penne

1 small can sliced mushrooms (optional but I love them in this dish)

1 8 oz block of mozzarella cheese, grated on large hole side of your grater

Directions: Heat a large frying pan that you sprayed with cooking spray. I like olive oil spray. Add the sausage that you uncased, press it a bit to spread it out and turn in 2-3 minutes. I used a Teflon pan turner to chop up the links into small bits. Cook about 5 minutes until it doesn’t look pink. Carefully remove the sausage and let it rest in a bowl. Leave about a tablespoon of sausage oil in the pan.

Start a large sauce pan to cook the pasta; fill with salted water and get it heating.

Add the carrot to the frying pan and cook a minute, add the red onion; cook 2-3 minutes, add the garlic, cook one minute, stir well. Add The tomatoes and then return the sausage to the pan. Add the basil, oregano, salt and black pepper and stir well, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. While that simmers, cook the pasta. I cooked mine 3-4 minutes less than the package said since we will bake this in the oven. Drain it. I also grated the mott cheese during these 10 minutes and heated the oven to 375 degrees. Add the drained mushroom to the frying pan for the last minute of cooking. Stir the pan well before ladling it into the casserole.

Get out a 2 quart casserole, I used a tall sided glass one. Put a ladle of the sausage sauce in the bottom, add 1/3 of the hot pasta and 1/3 of the cheese, layer it up two more times with the last bit of cheese on top. Put a piece of aluminum foil over the top to keep in the moisture and bake it for 30 minutes. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.  You might want to stir it up before ladling out servings to ensure it is well mixed. It looks like a bit of a mess but I promise you will really enjoy this easy sausage and pasta bake. It makes about 6-8 servings, 4 if folks are starving! Enjoy.

There it is; a hodgepodge looking dish but you are gonna love it! And yes; do make that salad to accompany it; mine has some homemade green goddess dressing. Mmmm.

Nor’easter Lentil Stew

 

Here’s a yummy stick to your ribs kinda soup recipe for this cold stormy spring day.  Last time I posted it…was for a blizzard; today a Nor’easter.  Make a big pot so  you have leftovers for tomorrow…starting mine as soon as I finish posting this. Lentils are good for you and hearty in stew for chilly days. I took a basic Italian lentil soup and kicked it up a bit with some changes and additions.  My daughter and I love the Italian sausage in it and I especially enjoy adding shredded kale to the mix.  Kale is still very trendy these days but I have been using it for years; this is one of my favorite recipes to make with kale.  It increases the nutritional value and the flavor of a soup.  I also like how easily it goes together.  If you hate kale leave it out; spinach is really tasty too in it.  I prefer fresh kale, don’t forget to cut off the tough stems.  In this batch I used a mixture of sweet Italian sausage and hot spicy sausage.  Lots of extra flavor that way!

This stew could be made vegetarian; use vegetable broth and leave out the sausage.  I don’t always have the parm cheese on it but it is very tasty with it.

 

 

 

Lentil, Kale and Sausage Soup

Ingredients

¼ cup EVOL

1 cup diced yellow onion

2 large carrots, diced

1 garlic clove if desired; minced

1 can diced tomatoes

2 tbsp. tomato paste dissolved in ½ cup water

2 cups dried brown lentils, washed after measuring

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes

1-2 quarts chicken broth,  If you don’t have that much broth just use water for part of it.

1 lb Italian sausage (sometimes I use a mix package of mild and spicy links)

1 lb fresh or frozen kale.  Fresh is best; chop it up but frozen will do

½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, optional (for topping)

2 tbsp chopped parsley; can leave out if adding kale.

Directions:

Sauté the onion and carrots in the olive oil in a big heavy bottomed soup pot.  I use a heavy bottom as your soup will be less likely to burn.  Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the sausage; push the onions to the pan’s walls so they don’t burn.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Add garlic and tomatoes and stir up well, add the tomato paste in water and cook 10 minutes.  Add broth and season with salt and pepper; remove sausage to a plate to cool. Bring the soup back to a boil and then add lentils.  Cook about 25 minutes, add the potatoes and cook 20 to 30 minutes until lentils are done to your taste, add the potatoes 20 minutes into the cooking time.  Stir pot occasionally so it doesn’t stick.  Add the kale and cook 5-7 minutes.  While the lentils are cooking you should cut up the sausage into rounds and add back to the lentil stew when they are done.    Let the soup stand at least 15-20 minutes once it is done.  Serve in a wide soup bowl with a good sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese on top.  Perfect on a cold winter night to warm you up from  your tummy to your toes!

sausage lentil stew

Originally posted February 2016.

Italian Sausage and Pepper Spaghetti: Perfetto!

Sometimes necessity is the mother of tasty invention in my kitchen! This is a “what’s in the fridge” post.  I had some nice looking organic Italian pork sausage in long sandwich links.  I had a red pepper and some onions and a can of crushed tomatoes.  I wanted to make a pasta dish but was craving sausage with peppers and onions.  This is my invention: sausage and pepper spaghetti.  Sounds basic but I never thought of combining the concepts of that old favorite: sausage with onions and peppers with a fairly traditional red spaghetti sauce.  This recipe marriage turned out just delicious. Plus it was relatively quick and easy too. My kind of recipe…

I made sure to not overcook the sauce so it was rather fresh flavored and I cooked the pasta for a couple minutes in the sauce and sausage mixture.  I cut my onions and peppers into two sizes to give variety in the chunky sauce.

Of course, if you would like to use another protein like chicken sausage, go for it. This is not one of those recipes where you have to follow the instructions and ingredient list perfectly.  Be creative and use what you have on hand. Go with the freshest and best quality ingredients available, don’t stray too far from the concept and it will be hard to go wrong with this entrée.

I honestly don’t think gluten free spaghetti could have been any better than this tasted. To put it another way, I didn’t miss wheat based pasta when I chowed down on this homey meal.  I would serve it without hesitation to my wheat loving family knowing they would enjoy every bite just like me.

Here are all my cooking pictures; sometimes it is annoying when they are all spaced out in the recipe; clumping them together for your convenience!

 

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Angie’s Spaghetti with Sausage and Peppers

Ingredients

1 lb fresh Italian sausage

1-2 tbsp. of EVOL

1 large yellow onion, sliced in long strips, half diced

1 large red pepper, sliced into long strips and half diced

2 garlic cloves, one minced and one sliced

1 tsp. dried basil

½ tsp. dried oregano

1 bay leaf

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

2 tbsp. white wine

Directions

I used a large cast iron frying pan; I know what you are thinking! Cast iron and tomatoes…not a great choice….well it fries stuff so well and I didn’t cook the sauce really long – so I think it was okay to use cast iron. But, in any case, use a large pan; 12 to 14 inch with at least three inch sides to hold all that sauce.  Heat the pan; add the olive oil, when it is hot put in the sausage links.  Brown on two opposite sides; about 4 minutes a side.  Add the onions, stir it up and put the links on top of the onions.  Cook 3 minutes, add the sliced/chopped pepper and stir well.  Cook a minute or two, add the garlic, cook one minute, stir it up and add the canned crushed tomato and the herbs and stir again. I rinsed the tomato can out with the white wine and poured it in.  Cook on low heat for 20 minutes.

Make the pasta, I used GF Barilla, salt the water well and stir it almost constantly while it boils. I undercooked it a minute.  Drain quickly, return to the pasta pot, pour in the sauce and sausage and cook 2 minutes.  Be sure to stir it several times as the sauce blends into the pasta so it doesn’t stick on the bottom.  Taste to be sure the pasta is done and adjust the seasoning; salt and pepper to your liking.

Serve with some freshly shredded real parmesan cheese on top; much better than that canned pre-grated cheese. Perfection!

Winter Tummy Warmer: Italian Lentil Stew

Okay, I have one more yummy soup recipe for these cold winter days.  I took a basic Italian lentil soup and kicked it up a bit with some changes and additions.  My daughter loves the Italian sausage in it and I love kale added to the mix.  Increases the nutritional value and the flavor.  I also like how easily it goes together.  Lentils are very earthy and very good for you. I have to say that my daughter loves this recipe; I made it because she was talking about it last week. Perfect to enjoy during this frigid weather.

If you hate kale leave it out; fresh baby spinach might be tasty too in it.  I like my kale fresh when making stews and I usually cut off any tough stems.  This recipe is naturally gluten free.  Do be careful about the broth you use.  Make sure it is labeled gluten free.

 

It could be made vegetarian; use vegetable broth and leave out the sausage.  I don’t always have the parm cheese on it but it is very tasty with it.

Lentil and Sausage Soup

Ingredients

¼ cup EVOL

1 cup diced yellow onion

2 large carrots diced

1-2 garlic cloves minced

1 can diced tomatoes

2 tbsp. tomato paste dissolved in ½ cup water

2 cups dried brown lentils, washed after measuring

1-2 quarts chicken broth, I prefer Kitchen Basics

1 lb Italian sausage

1 lb fresh or frozen kale.  Fresh is best; chop it up but frozen will do

½ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese, optional (for topping)

2 tbsp chopped parsley; can leave out if adding kale.

 

Directions:

Sauté the onion and carrots in the olive oil in a big heavy bottomed soup pot.  I use a heavy bottom as your soup will be less likely to burn.  Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the sausage; push the onions to the pan’s walls so they don’t burn.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Add the garlic as you are turning or stirring .

yogurt and apple crisp 019

Add tomatoes and stir up well, add the tomato paste in water and cook 10 minutes.  Add broth and season with salt and pepper; remove sausage to a plate to cool. Bring the soup back to a boil and then add lentils.

yogurt and apple crisp 021 Cook about 45 minutes to 50 until lentils are done to your taste.  Stir it occasionally so it doesn’t stick.

Add the kale and cook 5-7 minutes then add back the sausage.  While the lentils are cooking you should cut up the sausage into rounds and add them to the stew when the lentils are done.    Let the soup stand at least 15-20 minutes once it is done.

Serve in a wide soup bowl with a good sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese on top.  Perfect on a cold winter night to warm you up from  your tummy to your toes!

I only made a half batch this time as that was all the lentils in the house. We ate it all up before realizing I had forgotten to take a picture of a bowl of hot soup, ready to dive my spoon into it’s tasty depths.  Next batch!