Italian sausage and sweet potato casserole...
Lydia Bastianich's flat iron steak and cabbage casserole got my mind wondering. Her rosemary pesto, I thought, would really go good with Italian sausage. But, regular potatoes would make the flavor more "plain" than "zippy." What possibly could go with Italian sausage and cabbage with rosemary pesto?
Every fall I make an Italian sausage and pumpkin sauce for pasta. Yes, this does sound very odd, even to non-Italian ears! But, spiced correctly, this sauce is very good and I can't count the number of guests at HIH II who have asked for the recipe and have made it themselves with great results. I don't know how I came up with that particular pairing but I do recall that I had to use some cans of prepared pumpkin and, I figured, "Why not give it a whirl with Italian sausage?", because I don't particularly care for pumpkin pie unless it's my Mom's pumpkin chiffon pie or (once a year) Mary Jane Warfel's Thanksgiving Day pumpkin pie.
As events unfolded while I was contemplating what to use with the Italian sausage I had purchased, I also happened to have three large sweet potatoes in the pantry. I thought, "Why not try adding the Italian sausage to the sweet potatoes?" I knew the rosemary pesto would go great with both and the sweet potatoes would add an interesting flavor to both the Italian sausage and cabbage. So, I made the substitutions to the flat iron and cabbage casserole.
Once you have layered the ingredients, the lasagna tray may be filled to almost overflowing. Don't worry, however, as the ingredients cook down by about one third. After baking for two hours, don't forget to add the cheeses and bake until golden and crispy!
To serve, use a spatula to cut through the casserole. Remove one piece and place in a pasta bowl. Spoon some of the gravy over the piece of casserole. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.
After serving the casserole, use a large spoon to slather the gravy all over the top of the remaining casserole. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper, cover with aluminum foil, and place in refrigerator. Or, cut individual pieces of the casserole and place in individual containers and freeze.
Whether Lydia would appreciate being acknowledged as providing the "foundation" for this recipe, I don't know. I do know that it tastes surprisingly very good and, in my opinion, better than the flat iron steak and cabbage casserole because the former has some great flavors that add zip than the more plain flavors of the former recipe. (Don't get me wrong. The flat iron steak and cabbage casserole is very good.)
One additional benefit: when your guests walk into your home, it will be permeated with an absolutely phenomenal aroma!
Like the idea? Here's the recipe:
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