This dish looks really pretty when coming out of the oven but also is full of flavor and piping hot on a cold winter night. It would be a good dish to serve when having people over for dinner. Not diffifcult to make and it is warm and comforting to eat. Serve with a salad. Such as a salad with shaved fennel and Parmesan on it. Or a salad with some pears or apples and toasted pine nuts or walnuts would be a good compliment too.
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 use chicken but have used beef too)
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
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 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 broth and 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 or mushroom soup can be substituted for butter, flour, 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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