Spring cleaning and projects have hit my house in a big, big way. The fact that the house has only been around for a mere 6 months does not lessen the constant cleaning and maintenance that it desperately craves. Or, maybe its me who desperately craves having a clean house. I know for SURE my husband’s allergies crave it. Either way, this slightly warmer weather and sunshine has been lighting a fire under my rear to get some deep cleaning done. Yesterday I used glass cleaner on the outside of the patio sliding door and I promise the house got 175% brighter. Such a simple act resulting in a huge sense of satisfaction.
In the spirit of spring cleaning it only makes sense to take inventory of the pantry and begin cleaning ingredients out, too. During the weekly grocery excursion there are usually a few purchases that are thrown into the cart for a “just in case” scenario. Since starting a food blog two (OMG, two!) years ago I feel a constant need to have a variety of ingredients on hand for whenever a creative mood strikes. Nothing like being well prepared…except when the pantry is overflowing with miscellaneous grains, beans, lentils, dried fruit, spices, chocolate chips, sauces, and pastas. At some point the “rainy day” scenario has to come around; that week is this week my friends.
I posted sausage and peppers pasta in the infancy of this food blog but can’t help sharing it again.
Today’s version includes my new Trader Joe’s obsession: brown rice and quinoa gluten free noodles. Truth be told I haven’t purchased traditional pasta in months. What started as a curiosity has resulted in a deep-rooted food friendship. Each week I buy one or two bags for fear that TJ’s will discontinue it and I will never see it again (I am frequently on the losing end of that situation). These noodles are everything carba-liciously satisfying about pasta but have a surprisingly light, tender texture. No chewy, gummy, tasteless gluten free noodles here! Sweet italian sausage (instead of vegetarian “sausage”) is another update to the recipe. For a gray, rainy day in Michigan this is a seriously satisfying and cheesy dinner.
- 1 lb. sweet italian sausage (casings removed)
- 4 bell peppers; any color combination
- 1 medium onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 jars tomato basil or marinara sauce (you will actually use ~ 1.5 jars)
- 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt/pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brown sausage in a large skillet over medium heat breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks.
Remove the ribs and seeds of the bell peppers then slice into small strips. Peel the onion, cut it in half, and chop into thin slices. I cut the slices into halves as well to match the size of the bell peppers. The colors are just gorgeous; this recipe definitely helps you eat a rainbow of veggies!
Add the onion to the crumbled sausage and saute for 3-5 minutes before adding all the bell peppers, red pepper flakes, garlic, and a little salt and pepper. Stir to combine and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Stir the mixture often to help the peppers cook evenly; they will be tender but still retain some snap and crunch. While the peppers cook, add the pasta to the water and cook until just al dente (~ 9 minutes).
Drain the pasta and add back to the pot. Stir in about 1 1/2 jars pasta sauce; a little too much sauce is desirable because the noodles will continue absorbing it during the baking process. Add the sausage and pepper mixture to the pasta and stir well to combine. Pour the mixture into the biggest casserole dish you own and spread into an even layer.
Top with mozzarella, parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil. My mouth is watering already.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly. If you are anything like me you will pace the kitchen the whole time because you are starving and can’t wait for it to be done. Remove from oven and cool slightly. The cheesy, crunchy baked bits are favorites in my house.
After a loooong day at work I couldn’t wait to come home and make this recipe in my pj’s. A comforting, warming, and hearty family meal. Enjoy!