Savory Rigatoni Bake

Something about casseroles reminds me of home. I don’t know why, but this particular food group just screams home to me. Maybe its because I’m a Baptist (we do love our casseroles), maybe its because I love food, I’ll never really know the reason. Anyway, when I am having a mental block when it comes to creative recipes, I always turn to casseroles to reassure me. This recipe was entirely spontaneous. Picture it, a Sunday night, a house full of hungry people, and no meal on the table. Time to get creative, except….nothing is coming to mind. You decide to start throwing random items together…ground turkey….cheese…rigatoni pasta…green beans…and….it actually works. Sometimes in the life of a chef, the spontaneous recipes are the best. Maybe its because they force you to rely on your instincts, maybe its because spontaneous recipes are the reflection of the chef’s personality. Or…..I could stop saying maybe and tell you how to make this. Friar Tyst and I make a great team when it comes to food preparation, have I mentioned his skills at cooking ground meat? And another thing, I didn’t know that coriander seed was actually part of the cilantro plant….where was I? Oh yes, the recipe.

The Ingredients: 1 lb. rigatoni pasta, 1/2 lb. ground turkey, 1/2 cup cubed sharp cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese, 2 carrots, 1 bell pepper, 1 15 oz. can french cut green beans, 1 10.5 oz. can cream of chicken soup, 1/3 cup sliced green onions, 1 tsp. paprika, 1/2 tsp. onion powder, 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp. freshly ground peppercorns, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. salt.

Preheat your oven to 365 degrees. Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente. In a skillet over medium high heat, brown the ground turkey for ten minutes in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, when it is almost done, add in the salt, paprika, and ground peppercorns. While the ground turkey is cooking, dice up the carrots and the bell pepper, saute for ten minutes in a small skillet. The veggies and meat should be done at the same time. In a large casserole pan, using a rubber spatula; combine the cooked meat, cream of chicken soup, green beans (drain half of the juice and add the other half), green onions, sharp cheddar cheese, and remaining spices. Mix until well combined. Drain the cooked pasta and slowly fold the noodles into the mixture. Top with the mozzarella cheese and bake for fifteen minutes. Serve while warm.

Look at that dangerous amount of succulent pasta!

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