Today is the last day of August. Where did the summer go? It’s like I blinked and it was over. My food blogging friends are already forging ahead posting fall comfort recipes. But I’m not quite there yet. As much as I love apples and pumpkin, I’m just not ready to admit that summer’s over.
But I can’t deny that the air is changing. Just two weeks ago I was sleeping in a tank top and now I’m crawling out of bed at 3am in search of a fuzzy sweatshirt. Baby, it’s getting cooler outside. Which means that comfort food is creeping back into my kitchen.
And while I’ve been ignoring the onset of fall, my kid’s tummies have not. They are craving heavier fare. So, I had to come up with a compromise. A dish that still speaks of summer color while satisfying their desire for something a little more substantial than a salad.
Which is how my Harvest Veggie and Sausage Pasta Bake came to be. Birthed from a shoulder season of still producing gardens, it’s a dish that is a gentle nod to the impending cooler months while still holding on to the joys of summer. A slightly rebellious meal.
The more color, the better. Enjoy that color now before we are stuck with kale for a solid four months. Not that there’s anything wrong with kale. There isn’t. It’s just very green. Winter produce is full of green. Which is why I like to cook with as much color as I can right now while I’m still able.
Another thing I love about this dish is that there is no roux necessary. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good roux. Especially one that is cooked long and slow until it develops a sexy golden color which means intense flavor. But that kind of thing takes time.
Instead of a roux for this dish, I’ve used ricotta and egg to give richness and depth. A sort of cheat that works really well. Especially when there is little time to be had to make a deeply satisfying meal.
And did I mention that this week it’s back to school for my kids? Needless to say that I have zero time to cook anything fussy right now.
And while this meal doesn’t take much time to throw together, it looks like it took some effort when it lands on the table. Hot and bubbly. Cheesy and meaty with enough color to insinuate that it’s healthy. Just what you want in a comfort food.
And even though I’m trying to ignore the apples and pumpkins, I know those recipes are coming. But for today I’m going to eat as many veggies as I can before I’m back to sweet potatoes and kale for the winter.
- 10 oz Italian sausage (hot or mild) removed from casings
- ½ cup shallots, diced
- 4 cups assorted veggies, chopped and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 2 cups light cream
- 2 cups parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp salt
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1 lb pasta, cooked just under al dente
- Preheat oven to 350º.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook sausage until browned. Drain fat from meat and reserve 2 Tbsp of fat.
- Saute shallots in reserved fat over medium-high heat until translucent. Add veggies and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for two more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta, cream, parmesan cheese, eggs, salt and pepper. Stir to incorporate. Add cooked pasta and veggies. Stir to coat.
- Pour into a 9×13 baker and bake in a 350º oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden.