So, this is it! That super awesome zucchini casserole I told you about in my last post…. The next most perfect way to use up some of your summer zucchini, and keep you eatin’ those zuks all day long!
Please don’t judge this humble casserole based on its looks alone… I admit, it’s not gorgeous. And the name isn’t particularly inspiring, either. In fact, looking back I can’t fathom what prompted me to make it the first time, because I remember thinking to myself… that sounds like an odd combination of ingredients. And, honestly, the recipe underwhelmed me. It seemed a little too simple, without enough ‘saucy stuff’ to really make it delicious, and maybe a bit… well, bland.
But, I guess this recipe was meant to be in my life, because despite all those misgivings I had, I still made it that first time. And, wow… just wow. It blew my expectations away. These simple ingredients come together magically. I can never eat just one plate of this stuff. In fact, I usually seriously overeat when I make it, because each bite is just. so. good.
First of all, I love sauteed zucchini and onions. For summer fresh veggies, they just can’t be beat. So fresh and flavorful. And then, you add in this rich spicy sausage, which just takes the flavor profile over the top. The sauce I was so worried about is actually perfect… it adds just enough flavor in every bite without covering up the simple goodness of the rest of your ingredients.
One last, albeit, very important note: the sausage you choose here is very important, and may even make or break this recipe. The recipe calls for chicken sausage, which I love because it is much lighter and less greasy, without any loss of flavor. I have tried several different types through the years, including the store brand and other name brands, and have found that Aidells chicken sausages are the best. They are an absolute must for me – I pretty much refuse to make this recipe if I can’t find Aidells. They have a bunch of flavor options, but there are two that really work in this recipe: the Italian Style with Mozzarella Cheese, and Sun-Dried Tomato & Kale with Parmesan Cheese.
- 2½ cups uncooked ziti or penne
- 8 ounces chicken sausage (see note)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 5 cups zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch half moons (about 1½ pounds)
- 2 cups vertically sliced onion (about 1 large onion)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup fat free, reduced sodium chicken broth
- 2 tsp all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
- ½ cup shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Cook the pasta in boiling water until barely al dente (subtract about 2 minutes from suggested cook time). Drain and set aside.
- Remove the casings from the sausage. Slice the sausage into ¼ inch slices. Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with non-stick cooking spray. Add the sausage and cook until evenly browned, stirring frequently. Remove sausage to a warm dish and set aside.
- Heat 1-2 tsp olive oil in the same skillet. Add the zucchini, onions and garlic. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Saute for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and zucchini begins to brown, stirring frequently.
- While vegetables are cooking, combine the broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. When the vegetables are crisp-tender, add the broth mixture to the pan, cook for 1 minute.
- Combine the zucchini mixture, sausages, pasta, and feta cheese in a large bowl until combined. Spoon mixture into an 11 x 7 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly.
Sometimes, if I'm feeling daring, I put a full cup of mozzarella on top of this casserole... yum!
Recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light’s Zucchini, Sausage and Feta Casserole.