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How to Make a Cheap and Easy Italian Dinner That Doesn't Include Tomatoes

If you're searching for a "no tomatoes" pasta dinner that is incredibly good, opt for this Turkey Sausage and Mushroom Bake. The inexpensive-to-make (well, relatively) bake has plenty of flavor from the turkey sausage as well as earthy mushrooms. Low-fat ricotta adds a creamy, slightly sweet taste, and a splash of white wine lends a little acidity. A dusting of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese forms a crunchy crust on top of the bake. This is a restaurant-worthy dish even if it is easy on the cook and the wallet. It's also a good dish to share with friends. Just add a salad and some bread, and you've got a meal that will make everyone's tummy happy. Or, if you'd like to add an extra vegetable that you can pop into the oven to cook alongside the Turkey Sausage and Mushroom Bake, see the squash recipe that follows the one for the bake below. Enjoy!

How to Make a Cheap and Easy Italian Dinner That Doesn't Include Tomatoes
How to Make a Cheap and Easy Italian Dinner That Doesn't Include Tomatoes

Turkey Sausage and Mushroom Bake -- Serves 8

1 teaspoon of olive oil

16 ounces of lean Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (I use mild Gianelli sausage)

1 small onion, chopped

8 ounces of sliced mushrooms (button mushrooms are fine)

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of dried basil

1 1/2 cups of hot water

2 teaspoons of reduced sodium chicken Better Than Bullion (or use chicken broth)

2-3 cups of macaroni or other small pasta cooked until barely soft

1 15-ounce container of part-skim ricotta cheese

1 cup of shredded Italian blend cheese

1/2 cup of white wine (chardonnay works fine)

1 cup of slightly stale bread, crumbled (2-3 slices, sourdough works fine)

1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat a large non-stick, oven-proof skillet or chef's pan over medium heat and add the oil or spritz the pan with olive oil spray. When the pan is hot, add the turkey sausage and saute it until it browns a little--5-8 minutes. Add the onion and mushrooms and stir them into the turkey sausage. Let the mixture cook 5-10 minutes more or until the onion and mushrooms soften. Stir in the garlic powder and dried basil. Add the water and chicken Better Than Bullion and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the macaroni, turn down the heat to a simmer, and let the mixture cook a few minutes. Then stir in the ricotta, blending all the ingredients. The mixture will look a little grainy (from the ricotta), but don't worry about it. Stir in the Italian cheese. Add the wine to the mixture in the pan and then smooth the mixture out in the pan until it's evenly distributed. Turn off the burner and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Crumble the bread evenly over the top of the mixture in the pan, then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the bread crumbs. Put the skillet/chef's pan in the preheated oven and let the mixture bake for 20-30 minutes or until it's bubbling and the crust is golden and a little crunchy. Let the Turkey Sausage and Mushroom Bake sit for 5-10 minutes before serving it. It will be very hot!

Easy Baked Pipian (or Zucchini) Squash -- Serves 4+

6-9 Pipian squash (or use zucchini), washed well, trimmed, and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds

1/2 - 1 teaspoon of lemon pepper

Olive oil spray

1/2 cup of seasoned Panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or line the baking sheet with foil and spray the foil. Spread the squash out evenly on the foil, sprinkle it with lemon pepper and then mist the squash with the olive oil. Sprinkle on the Panko evenly. Bake the squash for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Easy Baked Pipian (or Zucchini) Squash
Easy Baked Pipian (or Zucchini) Squash

#turkeysausage #macaroni #pasta #mushrooms #ricotta

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