This is a super yummy, adult version of mac-n-cheese that is great as leftovers, too. It's Kevin's favorite and was his father's day meal this year. It comes from a magazine cooking contest in Better Homes and Gardens, and is definitely a winner in our house.
8 oz. sweet or hot Italian Sausage, or turkey Italian sausage can be used
8 oz. elbow macaroni or gemelli pasta (2 cups) cooked and drained
8 oz. cream cheese, cut in cubes and softened
4 oz. crusty Italian bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 oz)
1 Tblspn butter
1 Tblspn all-purpose flour
1 Tblspn fresh sage or 1 tsp dried crushed sage
1 tsp snipped fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried crushed thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
1 medium tomato, sliced
2 oz shredded Asiago, Parmesan or Romano cheese (1/2 cup)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet cook and crumble sausage, drain. In a very large bowl combine sausage, cooked pasta, cream cheese, bread cubes, olives and mozzarella cheese. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, sage, thyme, salt, pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Pour sauce over pasta mixture. Stir gently. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart casserole dish. Bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Uncover, top with tomato slices and Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered for 15 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with additional thyme if desired. Makes 6-8 servings.
We omit the olives, we are not olive people. And the cream cheese can be added one of two ways. If you like some clumps of cream cheese in the finished dish, do it the way the recipe says. Or if you like it more melted through, warm up the large bowl of sausage, noodles and cheese before setting aside and stir gently to evenly coat with cheese.