When you think of casseroles, health isn't necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. More likely, it's Cream of Something-or-Other Soup, canned mystery meat, and gobs of butter and cheese. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Still, if you can make a casserole that's both nutritious and tasty as all get out, why not do so?
Adapted from Faith Durand's Not Your Mother's Casseroles (our Cook the Book last week), Whole Wheat Pasta with Chicken Sausage, Chickpeas, and Garlicky Greens isn't the typical casserole. If you want to be picky, it's probably more of a pasta bake. But oh, what a pasta bake. Cheesy and savory and just a little nutty (whole wheat pasta tends to do that), it's a big bowl of food you won't feel guilty about.
Durand's original recipe calls for a 16-ounce box of pasta and a 10-ounce can of chickpeas. I only had standard-sized containers on hand (13.25 ounces and 15 ounces, respectively), so I used those. It turned out beautifully, and the lunch leftovers were the envy of the office.
In fact, the dish turned out so well, I've already bought groceries for six more of Faith's recipes.
- 1 (13.25-ounce) box whole wheat rotini
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 links (12 ounces) cured or smoked chicken sausage links, cut into 1/3-inch rounds
- 1 (16-ounce) bag chopped frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (low-sodium if preferred)
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9- by 13-inch glass baking dish with olive oil. Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water. Drain and reserve.
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Add sausage and sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add spinach. Stir to combine and heat through. Add soy sauce. Stir to combine. Taste, adding more soy sauce if necessary. Add pasta, chickpeas, tomatoes, and pepper to taste. Stir again. Add Parmesan. Stir one last time.
Pour mixture into prepared glass dish and bake until pasta and cheese begin to brown on top, about 25 minutes. Remove and cool 5 minutes. Serve.