Sometimes I think I was born during the wrong decade.
Don’t get me wrong, I rocked my giant 80’s hair with my DayGlo shorts and wayfarers.
You know you had them, too.
But sometimes when I hear Golden Ager’s talking about “the good old days” that were “a simpler time”, I often find myself nodding in agreement.
Case in point, I love to swing dance.
It’s not all that popular at da clubs these days, unfortunately.
The other throw back that I can’t get enough of? Casseroles.
Other than tuna casserole (it still kinda freaks me out) I’ve taken a crack at as many casseroles that I can think up.
But even though I like to wax nostalgic about retro cuisine, I love updating the classics.
Owing to the fact that my fridge is still pretty empty (still haven’t made a trip to Trader Joe’s…I’m starting to experience withdrawal DT’s) a throw-together casserole seemed like a perfect solution for dinner.
I don’t usually go with the classic Italian dishes, but I found myself with some roasted garlic chicken sausages, frozen bell peppers and an onion. The choice of cuisine seemed obvious. Hmm, what to do?
Spicy Sausage+Pepper Casserole
serves 4…although, don’t leave me alone around it or I’ll eat it all
3 chicken sausage links
1 medium onion, diced
1 small bell pepper (or 3/4 cup frozen) bell pepper, cut into strips
4 servings penne (or other short) pasta
1 T butter
1 T flour
~1/2 cup chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes+green chilis (I used Rotel)
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t dried basil
2/3 c shredded mozzarella
1/4 c panko bread crumbs
1 t olive oil
Preheat oven to 375°. Prepare pasta in salted water according to package directions.
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Once it begins to ripple, add onions with a sprinkle of salt. Saute until translucent. Add bell peppers. I used frozen strips, but feel free to use fresh or frozen in any color.
Once the veggies are soft, slice sausage on a bias and add to skillet. Then dump in a can of Rotel. I majorly love Rotel and I’m not even a fan of diced tomatoes in things. It’s spicy and amazing.
Season with oregano and basil. Once pasta is cooked, drain. While this is going, add butter to a skillet over medium-low heat to melt. Sprinkle in flour and whisk together to create a roux. Once the flour has cooked a bit, slowly whisk in chicken broth until it comes to a gravy-like consistency.
Turn off heat and add mozzarella. Stir to melt the cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Combine drained pasta, veggies/sausage and cheese sauce in a greased 9″x9″ casserole dish. Sprinkle with panko and bake for about 20 minutes until bubbling. Turn on broiler and watch carefully- you just want the top slightly browned.
This is not a retro casserole. This tastes like what would happen if an Italian sausage+pepper+onion sandwich met mac ‘n cheese met some Tex-Mex queso, fell in love, formed an unconventional marriage and had a baby.
Casseroles, you have my heart.
If that’s not a meal for the generations, I don’t know what is.