Friday, March 30, 2007

Pasta Bake with Sausage

I simply cannot hide anything from my husband. He's too wily. So I can try to slip ground turkey into my recipes, but much like a finicky cat able to figure out you've just stuck the heartworm pill into the delicious slice of cheese, he can also manage to evade my healthy attempts when it comes to poultry. Ergo, I usually will use 3/4 of a required amount of the recipe-called-for turkey with extra lean beef. Just for him. HOWEVER. I actually LIKE turkey sausage. It's really satisfying. I especially like the spicy kind they sell at my Teet. And I thought, "Well, blimey. This is so tasty, I've finally figured out a way to trick Stephen into eating turkey. BRU-HAHAHAHAHAHA!" I really did. I think in that villain-laugh.

No dice. We sat down to dinner last night and I swear to Moses he had us watching a show on meat packing. And we were both enjoying it. I know, I know -- can you imagine our children's first day of kindergarten? Anyway. They were talking about the sanitary ways of preparing sausage professionally. Yes, we were eating the [turkey] sausage at this point, and I was feeling smug about tricking my man into healthy eating. Then he casually remarked on he show's sausage commentary: "Yeah, that's true. What you really want to stay away from is TURKEY sausage."

My eyes get all huge. "WHY?!" I sputter, trying to subtly sneak the napkin up to my mouth.

He looks at me innocently, "What? This isn't turkey sausage, is it?"

Guiltily, "No! Of course not!"

"I can TELL when you use turkey." Said my finicky Cat Husband, smugly. There was nothing wrong with turkey, he just wanted to irk me into a confession.

Sigh. Foiled again.

Whatever. This recipe is delicious.

Baked Pasta w/ Sausage

Preheat your oven to 350 and spray a 9 x 13 bake pan with fat free Pam.

You'll need:
3/4 lb. turkey sausage* (You can also use a 1/2 lb of regular ground beef, just get the ultra lean kind, like less than 10 % fat), casings removed.
1 med. onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1 T. minced garlic
1 28 oz. can of seasoned diced tomatoes (I get the Del Monte kind pre seasoned with oregano and basil, for extra flavor)
10 oz. package of frozen peas, thawed
2 T. tomato paste
1 tsp EACH: oregano, basil, thyme, freshly ground pepper
12 oz whole wheat pasta (like ziti or penne), cooked and drained.
6 oz. part-skim mozarella, either shredded or sliced thin or chopped.
3 T. freshly grated parmesan cheese

Crumble your delicious sausage into a large skillet and set over medium heat to brown. I like to season it a little as I do this, just a small amount of salt, pepper and some old Bay for color. Drain off any grease and then add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft. Add the garlic and let get fragrant before adding in the tomatoes, peas, paste and spices. Bring all this to a simmer and then cook uncovered for 5 min. Finally, stir in your pasta and 3 oz. of the mozarella. Spread the mixture into the bake pan and top evenly with the remaining mozarella and parmesan. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 20 min. Let it stand 20 minutes to set, and then serve with a nice big salad or some sun-dried tomato bread. Mmmmm. Only 350 calories per serving -- serves 8. Also, this freezes really well, so you can save some portions for a rainy day when you want something homemade and are too tired to get cookin'.

Turkey Tunes:

"Bird on a Wire" by Leonard Cohen (Your bird is all the more wired into taste when in sausage form)
"Maniac" by Michael Sembello (I sing this all the time in the kitchen, until my husband finally looked at me strangely one night and said, "Isn't that song about stripping?")
"What the World Needs Now" by Jackie DeShan (The world needs this delicious meal! So make it for us!!)

* If you buy the full pound of turkey sausage, you can use leftover links in a spoon bread I'm going to post here on Sunday!

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