Chipotle Sausage Macaroni Casserole

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As I have come to realise, the simplest dishes are often the tastiest and casseroles are one of them. I understand that spring has definitely arrived, and barbecue season with it, but if you live in Alberta, expect the unexpected.

Just like last week in Calgary: warm and sunny Wednesday, blustery and snowy Thursday!

With days like that, skip the salad and welcome a bowl of chicken soup or a warm, comfort meal with a cheesy crust on top!

In this all-in-one comfort food, I just precooked the macaroni, added zesty capers to the vegetables I had in my crisper. The chipotle peppers add both heat and smokiness to the tomato sauce. Before baking, I snipped the Italian sausages allow the spicy tomato-vermouth broth to infuse the meat and speed up the cooking process. Everything to make the King of Casseroles happy!

Ingredients for 6-8 servings:

2 ½ cups macaroni

1 celery heart

1½ cup cremini mushrooms

1 yellow pepper

1 small red onion

1 small jar capers

4 to 6 chipotle peppers

4 Italian sausages (Note: Omit for the vegetarian option)

1 28-ounce can tomato

1 cup dry vermouth

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon Italian herbs

½ cup freshly grated pecorino

Salt and pepper

1. Precook the macaroni in salted boiling water for 2 mins then drain. (The pasta should be firm to the touch)
2. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
3. Chop celery, mushrooms, yellow pepper and red onion and add to a casserole dish.
4. Stir precooked pasta, capers and chipotle into the vegetables.
5. Snip the sausages into 2 inch morsels using scissors and add to the dish.
6. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and stir into the vegetables with herbs and seasoning.
7. Cover and bake for 40 mins until the sausages and the pasta are cooked, stirring in the vermouth after 20 mins.
8. Top with cheese and brown for 5-10 mins.

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