Parents everywhere start thinking about meal planning in earnest when the school bell rings again. For many of us, summer is a more relaxing time when it comes to meals. Schedules seem to ease just a bit; homework does for sure. That luxurious respite comes to an end soon.
So what to make for dinner that everyone will eat and that might even produce leftovers for school lunches? A back to school casserole fits the bill for me, and hopefully for you, too. The dinner hour can be a bit bananas when school kicks up, and that’s thanks to football practice, piano lessons, gymnastics classes and more. Many of these events overlap with meals. I like making something that can be served at various times, using the microwave to heat up. It’s not always possible to get everyone to the table at the same time.
Sausage, Peppers and Onion Pasta Casserole from Isabel at Family Foodie is a casserole that fills this role perfectly. It’s a New Jersey twist on classic macaroni and cheese. Sausage and Peppers could be the state dish of the Garden State and when the pasta is ziti, well, fuhgettaboutit.
Besides being a great school-night meal, this pasta bake is great football food. Invite a gang over to watch the game and serve this with some dips and other simple finger food.
Since it serves 10 people, you just might have enough to ship off with junior for lunch. Or bring a container to the office for yourself. Heat the casserole gently in the microwave and scoop into an insulated container. It will lose a little heat even in container, but still be plenty warm by the time your kid hits the lunchroom.
- 1 pound ziti
- ½ pound turkey sausage (Italian pork sausage can also be used)
- ½ cup butter
- 1 cup pepper cut into strips
- ⅓ cup sliced red onion
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 2¼ cups milk
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Additional butter to butter the casserole dish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pasta according to pasta directions.
- In a large skillet, brown the turkey sausage. Remove from pan and drain off fat.
- Melt butter and saute peppers and onions until tender but not brown. Stir flour into the pepper and onion mixture and slowly stir in the milk.
- Cook over low heat while stirring constantly, over medium-low heat until well blended. Stir the cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir cooked ziti and sausage into the cheesy mixture.
- Pour into a buttered casserole dish. Bake uncovered for approximately 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.