Just to show that I don't always make really spicy food, this recipe doesn't include any spices at all! Just kielbasa, vegetables, pasta, and cheese. Comfort food, through and through. (I did promise Debbie that I would make a spiced-up version of this for her someday!)
Ingredients You'll Need
- spaghetti sauce
- diced tomatoes
- tomato paste
- ricotta cheese
- Cheddar jack cheese
- mozzarella cheese
- green onions
You can change this recipe in any number of ways. Use a different protein, such as ham. Use different types of cheese... pepper jack cheese would give it a bit of a kick! Switch the vegetables; cauliflower, spinach, or peas would work well.
How to Make Two Casseroles at Once!
Here's the first set of ingredients: kielbasa, onions, zucchini, carrots, garlic, and green onions.
So let's talk about quantities. The recipe calls for "two medium zucchini", "two medium carrots", and "two green onions". When I went to the store I found a bin full of really skinny carrots. Two of those wouldn't be enough. But at the bottom of the bin I found these two large, stumpy carrots. They aren't that pretty, but they're going to be shredded, so who cares? After I cut off the ends they came out to about two medium carrots. I lucked out on the zucchini, I found two of what I would consider "medium" size. But with the green onions they only had really thin ones. So I used four instead of two.
The point here is that you'll have to be adaptable when following a recipe. Measurements like "large" and "medium" aren't exact to begin with. So go to the store with an idea of how much space "two medium carrots" would take up in your cart, and then buy enough carrots to fill that space, whether it's four small carrots or one huge one. Or even a bag of baby carrots!
So here's everything slices, chopped, and shredded. This is where most of the work is in this recipe. All the veg goes into the pan at once, so put them all in the same bowl!
Here are the pantry items: macaroni, spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste.
Prepping pantry items is easy! Open the pasta packages, and open jars and bottles.
Kitchen Tip! Have you ever been frustrated trying to get all the tomato paste out of the can? Well, you can stop stressing! I always keep a large magnet on the side of the refrigerator. When I need tomato paste, I use a can opener to cut completely through the top of the can, then I use the magnet to pick up the top.
Now here's the trick: Turn the can upside down into a small bowl and use the can opener to cut through the bottom of the can. Pick up the can with one hand and push down on the bottom of the can. All the paste will come out cleanly into the bowl. Now use the magnet to pick up the bottom of the can. Voila!
Finally, here are the dairy components: ricotta, Cheddar jack and mozzarella cheese, and a couple of eggs. You can get brick cheese and shred it yourself, but I just buy shredded cheese.
And here they are prepped. Again, this part is pretty easy.
Okay, it's time to cook! The first thing to do is get the pasta going. Cook it to al dente according to the package instructions. And while you're at it, start the oven pre-heating to 350°F.
Heat the oil over medium high heat and sauté the sausage until it starts to brown. This should take about 5 minutes.
You'll need a pretty large pan for this because it's a double recipe. The pan I'm using is a rondeau... a round, straight-sided pan. It's my favorite pan! It's 12" wide and 3" deep, and it's the same volume as a 9x13 baking pan.
Add all the vegetables, mix well, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the zucchini to be crisp-tender.
Add the spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste to the pan. Mix everything up, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stop by to stir it a bit a few times.
Here's another kitchen tip! What is it with tomatoes? Have you ever given up trying to get the last of the spaghetti sauce out of the jar? Your worries are over! Add about ¼ cup of water to the jar, screw the top on tightly, and shake the jar a few times. Open the jar and pour it into the pan. The small amount of water won't thin the sauce noticeably.
Mix the ricotta cheese and eggs together. Now it's time to set up your casserole assembly line. You'll notice that I'm using disposable 9x13 pans for this. I buy them. and lids for them, in bulk. They're great for prepping freezable casseroles!
Put a fourth of the pasta into each pan.
Follow it with a fourth of the meat and veg sauce.
Add a fourth of the ricotta and egg mixture. The ricotta may not spread very easily, just do the best you can.
Next is a fourth of the Cheddar jack and mozzarella cheeses.
Repeat all four layers, then sprinkle the green onions over the top. Put one of the casseroles in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Here's the casserole right out of the oven. Mmmmm, melty cheese!
Let the other casserole cool to room temperature. Cover it and freeze it. It's best to use it within a few months. To cook it, thaw it in the refrigerator for a day or two. Take it out of the fridge for a couple of hours, then cook at 350°F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until it's heated all the way through.
Here's a cautionary tale. We got a new freezer recently, and when we were moving everything from the old one I found one of these casseroles that I had forgotten about. It was probably about six months old. We thawed it in the fridge for a couple of days and baked it, and it was fine. The moral of this story is: Check your freezer for lost casseroles regularly, and write the date it was made on it when you put it in the freezer!
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📖 Recipe Card
Cheesy Kielbasa Casserole
Special Equipment Needed
- Box grater or food processor
- Large skillet or stock pot
- 2 9x13 baking pans
- 2 (16-ounce) packages elbow macaroni
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 pounds kielbasa halved lengthwise and sliced
- 2 medium onions chopped
- 2 medium zucchini quartered and sliced
- 2 medium carrots grated
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 (26-ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato paste
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1 (16-ounce) carton ricotta cheese
- 2 cups Cheddar Jack cheese shredded
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
- 2 green onions sliced
- Preheat the over to 350°F.
- Cook the macaroni to al dente according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and set aside.2 (16-ounce) packages elbow macaroni
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the kielbasa and sauté for about 5 minutes, until it starts to brown.2 pounds kielbasa, 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Add the onions, zucchini, carrots and garlic. Sauté for 5 to 6 minutes or until crisp-tender.2 medium onions, 2 medium zucchini, 2 medium carrots, 1 teaspoon garlic
- Stir in the spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste and bring the skillet to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.1 (26-ounce) jar spaghetti sauce, 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, 1 (8-ounce) can tomato paste
- Combine the eggs and ricotta cheese in a bowl and mix well.2 eggs, 1 (16-ounce) carton ricotta cheese
- Spray two 9x13 baking pans with cooking oil spray. Layer a fourth of the macaroni in each pan, followed by a fourth of the kielbasa and vegetable sauce, a fourth of the ricotta cheese, and a fourth of the Cheddar Jack and mozzarella cheeses. Repeat the same layers, and sprinkle the green onions over the top.2 cups Cheddar Jack cheese, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 2 green onions
- Put one casserole in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- Let the second casserole cool to room temperature. Cover and freeze for up to 2 months.
To Use the Frozen Casserole
- Thaw the casserole in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Remove it from the refrigerator a couple of hours before baking. Bake at 350°F for 35 to 40 minutes or until heated through.
THIS RECIPE IS FROM
The Spice of Your Life - https://thespiceofyourlife.com