Leftovers just got a Makeover – At The Beach!

Misc. / January 13, 2017

Few places have the kind of natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, my home for almost 8 years in the 90’s and my destination for the next week. I am visiting old friends at their beach house in Stanwood, WA, taking in the view of the ever changing Sound, sipping coffee while watching purple sunrises, and being appropriately soothed by the casual passing of a bevy of swans.

It has been nearly a decade since gathering. And even though Facebook keeps us in touch, We  are indeed way overdue for an evening of laughter, cooking and good wine.

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Anna and I share the same affinity for an off-the-cuff style of recipe development which is sure to result in P.A.S., “pretty awesome stuff!” as we call it, the intentional result of our foraging throughout the kitchen. We look for leftovers that have no future as an a la carte snack, pantry items that need to see some action, and make a charcuterie plate that sings before beginning to create. As we popped the first cork, Anna exclaimed, “Let’s get cracking on vegetable leftovers and some healthy turkey sausage!”

Okay, I’m game.


As the chopping and mincing begin, we saw a dish take shape that had all the earmarks of being a success. It smelled amazing and each of these orphan foods were finding a home nestled within a velvety, and spicy cheddar cheese sauce. We rock!!! Until. . .

So we really did mean to make this with turkey sausage. Honestly, we did. Even after the beautiful aroma of sage and spice filled the kitchen, and the silky fat began to caramelize and pool in the pan, we continued our charade, boasting about our healthy choice for dinner. It wasn’t until later that we, two blissfully demented cooks, saw the turkey in the fridge, and had to admit we had opened regular sausage instead.

​GO figure. Guess we were just drawn to the good stuff! The fact of the matter is you can use any meat, turkey or pork. Even hamburger meat. Also, feel free to use any leftover roasted vegetable on hand. But if you want to duplicate our level of mistaken yumminess, follow this as closely as you can!

Layered Sausage and Roast Vegetable Casserole with a Spicy Cheddar Sauce

The perfect meal for all those leftover roasted veggies in your fridge. Take little time to prepare but tastes like you worked all day long!


1 16 oz package plain Jimmy Dean Sausage
1 medium yellow onion diced
1 bulb celery root
1–2 large cloves of garlic minced
½ large green pepper diced
1 medium bulb fennel thinly sliced
3 C cooked sliced butternut squash
About 2 C roasted Brussel sprouts
1 pint of fresh spinach leaves
½ C craisins
Salt and pepper
4 T butter
1 T oil

Cheese Sauce:

2 C sharp cheddar cheese grated
1/3 C heavy cream
1 ½ C chicken stock
2 T butter
2 T flour
¼ t of dried oregano
¼ t dried thyme
½ good quality or artisan store garam masala
Salt and pepper


  • Cook the sausage with the onion and green pepper. Cook the fennel in a little good oil until caramelized. To make the cheese sauce, start with the flour and butter and make a roux. Add the cream and stir to thicken, then the stock and stir to make smooth, then add the cheese and stir until it melts and is steaming. Add the spices and salt and pepper to taste. Do not boil, but keep it hot enough as you heat it to allow the sauce to tighten. You’re not looking for a thick cheese sauce but a velvety, smooth sauce.
  • To assemble, butter a large 9 by 13 inch heavy casserole dish. Put the uncooked celeriac on the bottom, cover with the cooked sausage mixture, then layer with the cooked squash, then the fennel, then the Brussel sprouts, then put the spinach all over the top, sprinkle with craisins and then pour the finished sauce all over the casserole. Dot with the 4 T butter and another flourish of sea salt, then cook in a 375 degree F oven for about 25–30 minutes, or until bubbling and browned a little on the edges.

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