Tomato Basil Feta & Fusilli Casserole with Roasted Asparagus & Balsamic Feta Crumble Topping
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces dry fusilli pasta
  • 1/2 lb. bulk ground Italian sausage
  • 1/4 c. pinot noir
  • 1/3 c. sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 1/3 c. sweet tricolor bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. chicken stock
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Italian herb seasoning
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seed
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked sea salt
  • 6 ounces plus 1/3 cup tomato basil feta cheese, crumbled
  • Roasted Asparagus & Balsamic Feta Crumble Topping
  • 1 bunch fresh young asparagus
  • 1/4 c. panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons garlic sea salt
  • 1/4 c. basil leaves, chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp. balsamic glaze
  • Directions
  • Preheat oven to 375º F.
  • To make the casserole, bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for 7 minutes. Drain.
  • In a large, deep sided skillet on medium, brown the sausage, breaking into small pieces as it cooks, for 5 minutes. Add the wine and let it cook down for a minute, then add the onion, peppers and garlic and cook for 4 minutes. Add butter and when melted, stir in the flour and cook for a minute. Add the chicken stock, heavy cream, sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, Italian herb seasoning, red pepper, fennel seed and salt and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Stir-in 6 ounces of Tomato Basil Feta, stir until cheese is incorporated. Add the pasta and mix well, then pour into a 9”x 13” baking dish and bake for 20 minutes, covering with a foil tent after 10 minutes. Remove and rest for 10 minutes.
  • For the Roasted Asparagus & Balsamic Feta Crumble Topping, cut off and discard the bottom half of asparagus stems and toss with the breadcrumbs, oil and salt. Lay in a single layer on a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
  • To serve, cut square portions of the casserole out onto serving plates and top with equal portions of asparagus. Top each with remaining Tomato Basil Feta, chopped basil and a zig-zag drizzle of balsamic glaze. Serve and enjoy!
  • Recipe courtesy of Sandi Sheppard, Finalist in the 2016 Nikos® "Wave of Flavor" recipe contest