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Tomato Basil Feta & Fusilli Casserole with Roasted Asparagus & Balsamic Feta Crumble Topping

Main Ingredients: Pasta

Yield: 8 servings

Recipe courtesy of Sandi Sheppard, Finalist in the 2016 Nikos® "Wave of Flavor" recipe contest


  • 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


  • 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


  1. Preheat oven to 375º F.
  2. To make the casserole, bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for 7 minutes. Drain.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

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