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Tuscan Mac 'n' Cheese


Not exactly diet friendly...


8 ounces sweet or hot Italian sausage or uncooked turkey Italian sausage
8 ounces gemelli or elbow macaroni (2 cups), cooked and drained
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes and softened
4 ounces crusty Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon snipped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried leaf sage, crushed
1 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
1 medium tomato, sliced
2 ounces shredded Asiago, Parmesan, or Romano cheese (1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 350. Remove casings, if present, from sausage. In a skillet cook and crumble sausage; drain. In a very large bowl combine sausage, cooked pasta, cream cheese, bread cubes, and mozzarella cheese. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, sage, thyme, salt, and cayenne pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Pour sauce over pasta mixture. Stir gently. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart casserole. Bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Uncover; top with tomato slices and Asiago cheese.
Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes more or until heated through. Let stand 15 minutes before serving, Sprinkle with additional fresh thyme, if desired.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.