recipes that are simple and delicious.
Fall is finally here in Wisconsin. Cool, dark mornings, and perfect afternoons lead into a cooler evening, and well to me, that means it is soup, stew, and casserole season. My favorite time of the year, hands down. I think I would trade fall for summer any time, and I do not joke when I say that. But lets get back to that comfort food I just mentioned. I love fall because of comfort food. Heck, it is pretty much what this whole site is about; comforting food, and nothing beats comforting food after a long day of work on a cool night. It’s a winner, hands down.
It wasn’t too long ago when I arrived home from work to find a large package on my doorstep. As I thought to myself, what in the heck did I just recently order, I walked over to the package and read the shipping information. It was from Nueske’s! Now you should know by now, I love Nueske’s products, and for those folks that have tried their products, I know they love them as well. I took the package inside to find a lovely array of smoked meats including their smoked kielbasa. I knew right away what I was going to make with this kielbasa, and that was to use it in a awesome, creamy penne pasta casserole.
Lets get started.
Begin by having all of your ingredients prepared and cooked ahead of time. That means your chicken and your pasta. The other ingredients should be prepared as well. You can prepare all of your vegetables and dicing while the pasta and chicken are cooking.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Bring a skillet to medium-high heat. Add in the olive oil, then toss in the peppers, onions, spinach, and garlic. You only want to cook for a few minutes to sweat the onions and garlic, and slightly wilt the spinach. After a few minutes, remove the skillet from the stove.
To a sauce pan, add the butter, and let it completely melt. Medium heat is fine on this. Next, add in the flour, and incorporate this into the butter, mixing with a wooden spoon for about 3 minutes. It will begin to turn a nutty brown color. This is good. Slowly add in the half and half, then the milk. Raise the heat a bit, and continue stirring for about 5 minutes, if not longer, until the sauce begins to thicken.
Season the sauce with the salt, pepper, and Old Bay, and give a good stir. Add in the cheese. Stir, then remove the sauce pan from the heat.
To a large mixing bowl, add in the pasta, chopped onion, spinach, garlic, chicken, kielbasa, and peppers. Give a good stir, then pour in the sauce. Continue to stir until all of your ingredients are nicely coated with the cheese sauce.
Pour this mixture into a large casserole dish and place in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and bubbly.
When you pull this dish out of the oven, it is a thing of delight. The spinach balances out the creaminess of the pasta, and then the smokey punch of the kielbasa along with the garlic and onion. My oh my, this one was delicious. To plate, simply serve at the table and dig in. My wife and I were in heaven when we took our first bite.
This throw together pasta is another reason why I love fall (and Nueske’s!). With basic ingredients laying around the house, spinach from the farmer’s market, and the delivery of great smoked kielbasa from Nueske’s, dinner just got easy, and delicious. Not to mention the leftovers. This dish was just as good the following days ahead. I hope you enjoy!
What are some of your favorite fall recipes?