Italian Winter Casserole

“I love earthy mushrooms with Pinot as a delicious combo and a perfect winter recipe.  Serve this with a side salad.  When I made this for the first time, I noticed no one put their fork down at the table.”

– Denise Gill, Tasting Room Manager

– Serves 6 –

Ingredients:
8 oz. uncooked penne pasta
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 lb. Portobello mushrooms, cleaned & thinly sliced
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 tsp. dry Italian seasoning
10 oz. fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup soy sauce

Method of Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350˚.  Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Place pasta in the pot, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente, then drain.

Before thinly slicing the Portobello mushrooms, cut out the stem.  Next, using a spoon, remove the brown gills of the mushrooms and discard.  Wipe the mushroom caps with a damp paper towel.  Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the mushrooms and Italian seasoning, cook 3 minutes, then set aside.

In the same skillet, brown the Italian sausage, then add spinach to the pan to wilt, about 3 minutes.

Melt butter in the saucepan.  Mix in flour and garlic.  Gradually mix in milk until thickened.  Stir in 1 cup cheese until melted. Remove saucepan from heat and mix in cooked pasta, sausage, mushrooms, spinach and soy sauce. Transfer to the greased baking dish and top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until bubbly and lightly brown.