Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bell Pepper, Rice & Italian Sausage Casserole

1/2 cup of finely chopped onion
2 bell peppers -  stem and seeds removed and cut off 4 to 6 rings and then chop the rest
2 tsp. + 2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. Italian seasoning (a blend of dried oregano, marjoram, thyme, and rosemary)
4 or 5 links turkey/chicken Italian sausage (1 lb.)
2 cups cooked rice - brown or white 
3/4 cup cheese (low-fat cheeses work too - I used colby-jack mixture)
1 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
3/4 cup any broth (I used a chickem bouillon cube to make mine)
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)

Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large heavy frying pan. Add the chopped onion and bell pepper and saute until the vegetables are cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the cooked vegetables to a bowl.

Add 2 tsp. more oil to the frying pan (or less if you're using a non-stick pan.) Squeeze the turkey Italian sausage out of the casing and saute until it's fully cooked and nicely browned, breaking apart with a turner as it cooks. This will take about 5-6 minutes, but don't rush the browning.

When sausage is done sprinkle with 3 tbsp. flour and add 1 tbsp butter to the pan, stir until well coated/mixed.  Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth and 1/2 cup of milk.  Stir and cook until mixture thickens.  After it the mixture thickens add the cooked vegetables, Italian seasonings and rice into the pan and mix with the sausage. Cook this mixture a few minutes, until the rice is warmed through. Put the mixture into a casserole dish that you've sprayed with olive oil or non-stick spray. (I used a dish that was 9 x13  but a slightly smaller size will work.) Sprinkle the cheese over the top. Add bell pepper rings to top. Push them into the casserole slightly. 

Put the casserole into the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and lightly browned and the whole thing is piping hot, about 20-25 minutes. Serve hot.

1 can of cream of chicken soup can be substituted for butter, flour, chicken broth and milk.  You will probably still need a little water or milk to smooth it out some though when mixing it in. 

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