Fresh Sausage is a mixture of ground meat (most often pork that has not been cured), salt, herbs, and spices. This product must be refrigerated and is sold without any casing.
Sausage is one of my favorite meats. Our local small town grocery store and butcher shop makes awesome fresh sausage. Their mixture of ground pork and spices makes my mouth water.
Cream cheese is a fresh white cheese that is mild in taste. This soft cheese is traditionally made with unskimmed milk that is enriched with cream.
American made Neufchatel is a lower fat, higher moisture soft cheese. It is commonly a reduced fat alternative for regular cream cheese.
These two ingredients called out to me when I found this recipe for Sausage Bake in my Southern Living Quick and Easy Weeknight Meals cookbook. Anything with sausage catches my eye. I have been seeing a lot of recipes with cream cheese melted in the sauce. I thought I would give it a whorl; here is what I came up with.
¾ pound Sausage
1/2 large Roasted Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 large sweet Onion, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, minced
Spaghetti Sauce (make your own from a package or used a jarred sauce)
1/2 (4-ounce) package soft cream cheese
1 teaspoons Dried Italian Seasoning
1 tablespoon Cooking Sherry (optional)
8-ounces Elbow Pasta – I do not pre-cook my pasta.
3 slices of Provolone Cheese
Brown sausage and drain.
Sautee onion and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Make spaghetti sauce according to package directions.
To spaghetti sauce add: cream cheese, italian seasoning, sautéed onion and garlic and, if desired, sherry. Cook, stirring often, until cream cheese melts and mixture is thoroughly heated.
Spread ¾ cup spaghetti sauce mixture on the bottom of a small casserole dish.
Top with ½ of pasta.
Sprinkle with ½ of the sausage.
Repeat layers ending with spaghetti sauce.
Top casserole with Provolone Cheese.
Bake at 375* for 30-45 minutes or until heated through.
May be prepared a day in advance. Let casserole sit out at room temperature for 30 min then bake.
I really enjoyed this casserole! J, not so much. You see, J is not a goulash fan. It’s a texture thing. On the other hand, I love goulash. It was my requested birthday meal growing up. The blond in me did not realize this dish was goulash like until I was eating the leftovers. Which, I might add, are delicious too.
So, if you are a goulash, sausage loving foodie willing to try cream cheese in your sauce this is definitely a dish for you!