Friday, September 23, 2016

Sausage & Meatball Rotelle Pasta Casserole

     A Pizzeria Style Baked Pasta!
     The first time that I had a sausage and meatball casserole was at a pizzeria in Florida.  The pizza shop was 2 blocks away from my house, so it was a convenient place to grab a bite to eat. 
     The Italian owner of the local pizzeria did all the cooking and the food was pretty good.  The owner of the pizza shop also was an accomplished professional Elvis Presley impersonator.  The regular customers really got a kick out of ordering pizza from "Elvis!"
     Italian pizzeria chef "Elvis" had two casserole dishes on his menu.  One was a sausage & meatball casserole that was served over linguini pasta.  The pizzeria owner said that his casserole dishes were like Italian home cooked meals.  .
     I ordered the sausage and meatball casserole instead of a pizza, just to give it a try.  When I got home and opened the to-go container, the aroma was really nice!  My roommates took one look and immediately asked where I got the great food.  I kept answering by saying that I got the sausage and meatball casserole from Elvis, but the roommates just figured that I was joking.  Finally I explained the details about how "Elvis the King" had a pizza shop in the plaza next door.   
     The next thing I knew, my roommates bolted out the door and were headed over to pizza shop.  Both my roommates came back with to-go containers full of the sausage and meatball casserole.  My roommates started talking to each other while shoveling the food in their mouths.  One of them said, "You know, that guy really does look like Elvis!"  
     After that day, our household was ordering Italian food from "Elvis" every time that we were hungry on our days off.  The Elvis impersonator's sausage and meatball casserole turned into our favorite to-go food meal.
     Today's pasta recipe is a home style meal that is sometimes seen on casual Italian restaurant menus.  The quality of the Italian Sausage makes a difference in this recipe.  Fresh sausage from an Italian deli or local butcher shop is nearly always better than commercial sausage from a grocery store. 

     Salsa di Pomodoro:
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.
     • Salsa di Pomodoro

     Polpettine (Small Meatballs):
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Place 6 ounces of lean ground beef in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of water soaked bread pith that is squeezed dry.
     Add 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of finely grated parmesan cheese.
     Add 1 tablespoon of whisked egg.
     Step 2: Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic.
     Add 2 pinches of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 2 pinches sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 3:  Thoroughly mix the ingredients together.
     Chill the meatball mixture to 41ºF.  
     Step 4:  Brush a small roasting pan with blended olive oil.
     Scoop cherry size portions of the meatball mixture and set them on a platter.
     Roll the little meat portions into tiny meatballs by hand.
     Place the little meatballs on the roasting pan.
     Step 5:  Place the pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Roast till the meatballs are fully cooked and lightly browned.
     Set the polpettine aside or chill them for later use.

     Italian Sausage:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Spicy Italian Sausage is best for this recipe.  
     Step 1:  Place a 5 to 6 ounce Italian Sausage on a small roasting pan.  
     Place the pan in a 325ºF oven.  
     Roast the sausage till it is fully cooked and lightly browned.
     Step 2:  Allow the sausage to cool to room temperature.
     Slice the sausage into large bite size pieces.
     Set the sausage aside or chill it for later use.

     Rotelle Pasta:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.     
     Cook 1 portion of Rotelle Pasta in boiling water over high heat, till the pasta is al dente.
     Cool the pasta under cold running water.
     Drain the water off the pasta.
     Set the pasta aside.

     Sausage & Meatball Rotelle Pasta Casserole:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée.
     This is not supposed to be a "cheesy" recipe.  Only a small amount of Parmigiana Cheese is needed to add a nice flavor.
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  
     Add 1/3 cup of thin sliced white onion.
     Add 1/3 cup of sliced green bell pepper.
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color.  
     Step 2:  Add 6 pitted black olives that are cut in half.
     Add 1/4 cup of roasted red bell pepper that is cut into wide strips.
     Add the reserved sausage slices.
     Add the reserved polpettine (little meatballs).
     Briefly sauté till the ingredients start to heat up.
     Step 3:  Add 1 3/4 cups of the tomato sauce.
     Add 1/3 cup of chicken broth.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Add the rotelle pasta to the sauce in the sauté pan.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 5:  Mound the pasta ingredients in a large single serving casserole dish.  Try to set most of the polpettine and sausage slices on top, so they can be seen.
     Sprinkle 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiana Cheese over the casserole.  
     Step 6:  Place the casserole in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the casserole is piping hot and the cheese softens.
     *Only a few minutes of baking time are needed!  Too much time in the oven will cause the pasta to dry out and burn. 
     Step 7:  Place the casserole on a doily lined serving platter.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Serve with garlic bread on the side! 

     Since all of the ingredients were hot before being placed in the casserole dish, the baking time is greatly reduced.  This is a nice Italian casserole for a chilly night!

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