Sausage, Black Beans, and Pasta Casserole

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Hearty Casserole
Sausage, Black Beans, and Pasta Casserole

The primary inspiration for this Sausage, Black Beans, and Pasta Casserole came from an abundance of tomato sauce in my freezer. I had surplus tomatoes in the garden last year and, since I detest food waste of any kind, I made and froze a lot of tomato sauce (recipe here) that needed to be transformed into meals.

At the time, I committed to develop a new casserole recipe with a tomato sauce base to add to my repository of casserole recipes. The secondary inspiration came from a leftover half can of black beans bought for a salad. I love these beans in a quinoa salad but only for so many days in a row! Again, with a view to reducing food waste, I decided I needed to find an additional way to use up leftover beans that typically come in a good-sized can. From there, I developed a casserole recipe, adding pasta, sausage meat, mirepoix, mushrooms, cheese, seasonings, tiny tomatoes, and frozen corn.

This is a made-from-scratch casserole. It is not an “open cans and bottles and dump” kind of dish. Therefore, like many homemade casseroles, there is some work involved. Vegetables have to be chopped, cheese shredded, sausage meat and pasta cooked, and sauce ingredients assembled and combined. However, by breaking down the tasks and working sequentially, step-by-step, the reward will be a tasty homemade meal.

I like to serve this Sausage, Black Beans, and Pasta Casserole with a side green salad and either homemade biscuits, rolls, or bread.

Meat and Pasta Casserole
Sausage, Black Beans, and Pasta Casserole
What kind of pasta can be used in this casserole?

I recommend rotini or fusilli. This is a hearty casserole so I suggest using a sizeable pasta shape, larger than macaroni.

What kind of sausages are used in the casserole?

Any kind of sausage meat may be used. If you are lucky enough, like me, to have a great butcher shop nearby that makes their own sausages of various flavors, those are, in my opinion, the best to use because they are fresh and locally made in-store. I used sun-dried tomato sausages in the casserole photographed because the flavor blended well with the tomato base in the casserole. Honey Garlic or Sweet Italian sausages, for example, would also work well. That is not to say that plain sausages or other flavors would not work well, too. As with any ingredient, the better the quality and the more flavorful the sausage meat is, the more flavor the casserole will have.

Whatever sausages are used, remove the casings and crumble the sausage meat up well for cooking.

Tip: I almost always have cooked sausage meat in my freezer that I use for pizza, omelettes, and casseroles like this one. It saves a great deal of time and eliminates the steps of a special trip to the butcher shop or supermarket for the sausage for a particular dish and then cooking it especially for that recipe. Having the sausage already cooked is a great time saver when prepping dishes that call for it as an ingredient.

What kind of tomato sauce is used in the casserole?

Any good quality tomato sauce can be used – either homemade or bought. I tend to use my own homemade sauce (recipe here) as I grow a lot of tomatoes in the garden. Because I don’t like food waste, I transform a lot of the tomatoes into sauce that I freeze for use over the winter. Making my own tomato sauce allows me to control the ingredient content and amount of salt used.

Tomato Sauce
Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauces vary in consistency with some being quite thick and others more watery. Note that the choice of tomato sauce to use in this casserole could have some bearing on the texture of the casserole.

What is the best variety of cheese to use in this casserole?

Any hard cheese that shreds and melts well can be used. I used a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella cheese along with some Parmesan cheese in the casserole in the photos. Monterey Jack could also be a good contender.

Could canned tomatoes be used in the casserole instead of the fresh whole cherry, grape, or currant tomatoes?

I do not recommend canned tomatoes in combination with the sauce ingredients in this particular recipe as the canned tomatoes have a lot of water/juice in and on them and will make the casserole too soupy and sloppy. A good casserole should not be dry but neither should it be too watery. The existing sauce ingredients have enough liquid in them and are sufficient to accommodate the other ingredients (i.e., pasta, meat, vegetables) in the recipe. The small tomatoes called for in the recipe add flavor and texture but don’t add excess moisture to the casserole that canned tomatoes (or even larger varieties of cut-up fresh tomatoes) would.

Any time ingredient substitutes are considered in a recipe, one must think how that substitute will affect the other ingredients and what changes would need to be made to those ingredients to accommodate an ingredient substitute. In this case, the sauce ingredient content would need to be proportionately altered to accommodate the additional liquid from canned tomatoes. For this reason, I recommend making the recipe with the ingredients the developer has used to create and test the recipe.

Tip: Cherry, grape, and currant tomatoes are prolific producers. When I have an abundance in my garden, I freeze the tiny tomatoes in airtight freezer bags to have ready to pop into stews and casseroles. I used frozen currant tomatoes from last summer’s garden in the casserole photographed.

Can I omit or put the whole can of black beans in the casserole or what do I do with the leftover beans from a can that is larger than the 6 ounces called for in the recipe?

I never recommend increasing, decreasing, or omitting ingredients in a recipe. The amounts listed in the ingredient list have been determined to be appropriate in relation to the amounts and kinds of other ingredients and, in particular, to the amount of sauce and those amounts have undergone successful testing.

Increasing the amount of an ingredient called for in a recipe means the amount of sauce will need to be proportionately increased to accommodate the extra ingredient as, otherwise, the casserole may become dry. As well, the size of baking dish will need to be larger to accommodate an increase in volume of ingredients. Baking times may also differ if more ingredients are added. Conversely, decreasing or omitting a core ingredient (like the beans, for example) altogether means there will likely be too much sauce for the remaining ingredients, potentially causing the casserole to be too watery.

As always, when making any recipe for the first time, I recommend making it exactly as the recipe developer has created it. Then, if it is determined that any adjustment for personal taste is required, make those adjustments the next time the recipe is made.

One way that leftover black beans can be used is in a salad with some quinoa or couscous along with a mixture of other vegetables tossed with a vinaigrette.

Are the Crunchy Fried Onion Toppers necessary for the casserole topping?

No, though they dress up and give the casserole a bit of crunch. The casserole may be left perfectly plain with a sprinkling of cheese on top. Or, the traditional bread crumb topping may be sprinkled over the casserole. Alternatively, crushed Tortilla Chips may also be used for a bit of crunch.

Meat and Pasta Casserole
Sausage, Black Beans, and Pasta Casserole
Why does the casserole need to sit, or rest, for at least 15 minutes before serving? Won’t it get cold?

When a casserole first comes out of the oven, its sauce will be bubbly and very runny. Letting a casserole rest for a few minutes before serving lets the liquid in it simmer down and absorb into the other ingredients, causing it to thicken slightly.

Casseroles are dense dishes and hold their heat so the casserole won’t cool that fast. In fact, letting the casserole rest a few minutes will not only allow it to spoon out and plate better but it will be at a more comfortable eating temperature so the flavors can be fully appreciated and enjoyed.

Can this casserole be prepared in advance and frozen for later use?

Yes! This casserole freezes very well, unbaked. When it bakes, it’s just like it was made fresh that day. For meal planners and those who engage in batch cooking for the freezer, this is golden as the casserole can be frozen in its entirety in one dish or it can be distributed between several smaller serving-sized dishes! Note that, if freezing the casserole, I recommend adding any toppings just at the time of baking.

I freeze the casserole in freezer-to-oven safe baking dishes in whatever serving size I need. I store the casserole(s) in airtight freezer containers then bake them from frozen state, adding some extra baking time (depending on the size of the casserole(s). To do this, though, it’s very important to make certain that the baking dishes are indeed freezer-to-oven safe as, otherwise, there is a danger they could crack in the freezer or oven. Note that, even though I am using freezer-to-oven safe casseroles, I do not preheat the oven before placing the ice-cold casserole dishes in the oven. I start them out in a cold oven.

If you don’t have a baking dish (or dishes) that can be tied up with the casserole(s) in the freezer, the casserole(s) can be frozen for about 24 hours, or until frozen solid, in tin-foil lined freezer-safe baking dish(es) (i.e., the one(s) that the casserole will eventually be baked in) then removed from the dish(es) for longer freezer storage. When lining the baking dish(es), leave enough tinfoil overhang sufficient to cover the top of the casserole. Simply spray the tinfoil with a non-stick cooking oil then assemble the casserole in the dish(es) according to the recipe’s method. Pull the tin foil overhang up over the casserole top(s) and place the casserole(s), dish(es) and all, into airtight freezer bags or containers. Freeze for at least 24 hours or until solidly frozen. Then, remove the frozen tinfoil-lined casserole(s) from the dish(es), wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and return the casserole(s) to the airtight freezer bag(s) or container(s) for freezing until needed. Be sure to label and date the casserole(s).

When ready to bake a frozen casserole, remove the plastic wrap and the tinfoil from the casserole and pop the casserole back into the (greased) baking dish in which it was originally frozen. Note that extra baking time (depending on the size of the casserole) will be needed to bake the casserole from frozen state.

Alternatively, while there is no need to thaw the casserole before baking, the casserole can be thawed for at least 24 hours in the fridge then baked according to the recipe baking instructions.

Sausage, Black Beans, and Pasta Casserole

Ingredients:

5 oz raw rotini or fusilli pasta, cooked according to package directions and drained

7 oz raw sausage meat, casings removed
2+ tbsp olive oil

2 cups tomato sauce, homemade or bought
2/3 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp Italian seasoning blend
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp paprika
1/16 tsp ground fennel
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 1/3 cups shredded cheese (e.g., any of, or a combination of, Cheddar, Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or any other favorite melting cheese that shreds well) (1/3 cup reserved for the casserole top)
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
¼ cup finely diced celery
¼ cup finely diced carrots
½ cup finely diced onions
2/3 cup diced sweet peppers (orange, yellow, or red (or any combination))
2 oz button mushrooms, sliced
3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced

6 oz (apx. 1 cup) canned black beans, rinsed and drained
6 oz whole cherry, grape, or currant tomatoes
½ cup frozen corn (optional)

Topping (optional):
2 – 2½ oz French’s Crunchy Fried Onion Toppers (or ½ cup bread crumbs mixed with 2½ tbsp melted butter or, alternatively, crushed Tortilla Chips work as a topping, too)

Method:

Boil water in large pot to have ready for cooking pasta. Grease 1½-quart shallow oblong casserole dish or spray with non-stick cooking oil.

Assemble and measure out all ingredients. Chop vegetables and rinse and drain the canned black beans. Shred the main cheese used and grate the Parmesan cheese.

In large bowl, mix the tomato sauce, chicken stock, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and seasonings. Whisk well to combine and blend ingredients. Stir in cheeses. Set aside.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large skillet. Crumble the sausage meat into the skillet, breaking the meat up well. Reduce heat slightly and cook the sausage meat, stirring frequently, until it is no longer pink. Drain well and set meat aside.

Place oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.

Begin cooking the pasta according to package directions, cooking just until pasta is al dente. Do not overcook pasta as it will cook further when casserole is in the oven.

While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil then melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Reduce heat slightly and add the celery and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes then add the onions, cooking for about 2 minutes, then add the peppers and cook (stirring continuously) for about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook mixture about 3-4 minutes longer, stirring frequently. Add the minced garlic and stir quickly for about 20-30 seconds. Do not let garlic scorch. Remove skillet from heat.

Drain the cooked pasta.

Add the pasta and sautéed vegetables to the sauce mixture in bowl. Stir gently to completely combine ingredients. Lastly, stir in the black beans, cherry, grape, or currant tomatoes, and frozen corn.

Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish.

Topping: Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup shredded cheese evenly over casserole top. Sprinkle Crunchy Fried Onion Toppers over casserole. (Or, alternatively, melt 2½ tbsp of butter to mix with ½ cup of bread crumbs in a small bowl. Stir with a fork. Sprinkle bread crumbs over casserole. Crushed Tortilla Chips may also be used as a casserole topping or the casserole may be left plain.)

Bake casserole, uncovered, for approximately 28-30 minutes, just until edges of casserole become bubbly. Remove from oven and let stand at least 15 minutes to allow the bubbling sauce to absorb into the casserole ingredients and set before serving. Serve with a side salad and biscuits, rolls, or bread.

Yield: Apx. 6 servings

If you have made this recipe and enjoyed it and/or wish to share it with your friends, please do so on social media and share the direct link to the Sausage, Black Beans, and Pasta Casserole recipe on my website.

Sausage, Black Beans, and Pasta Casserole

A hearty meal, this Sausage, Black Beans, and Pasta Casserole is a perfect comfort food meal for the colder months. Casserole freezes well.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword casserole, Sausage, Black Beans, and Pasta Casserole
Servings 6
My Island Bistro Kitchen Barbara99

Ingredients

  • 5 oz raw rotini or fusilli pasta, cooked according to package directions and drained
  • 7 oz raw sausage meat, casings removed
  • 2 + tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups tomato sauce, homemade or bought
  • 2/3 cup chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning blend
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/16 tsp ground fennel
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded cheese (e.g., any of, or a combination of, Cheddar, Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or any other favorite melting cheese that shreds well) (1/3 cup reserved for the casserole top)
  • 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup finely diced celery
  • ¼ cup finely diced carrots
  • ½ cup finely diced onions
  • 2/3 cup diced sweet peppers (orange, yellow, or red (or any combination))
  • 2 oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 oz (apx. 1 cup) canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 oz whole cherry, grape, or currant tomatoes
  • ½ cup frozen corn (optional)

Topping (optional):

  • 2 – 2½ oz French’s Crunchy Fried Onion Toppers (or ½ cup bread crumbs mixed with 2½ tbsp melted butter or, alternatively, crushed Tortilla Chips work as a topping, too)

Instructions

  1. Boil water in large pot to have ready for cooking pasta. Grease 1½-quart shallow oblong casserole dish or spray with non-stick cooking oil.
  2. Assemble and measure out all ingredients. Chop vegetables and rinse and drain the canned black beans. Shred the main cheese used and grate the Parmesan cheese.
  3. In large bowl, mix the tomato sauce, chicken stock, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and seasonings. Whisk well to combine and blend ingredients. Stir in cheeses. Set aside.
  4. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large skillet. Crumble the sausage meat into the skillet, breaking the meat up well. Reduce heat slightly and cook the sausage meat, stirring frequently, until it is no longer pink. Drain well and set meat aside.
  5. Place oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. Begin cooking the pasta according to package directions, cooking just until pasta is al dente. Do not overcook pasta as it will cook further when casserole is in the oven.
  7. While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil then melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Reduce heat slightly and add the celery and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes then add the onions, cooking for about 2 minutes, then add the peppers and cook (stirring continuously) for about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook mixture about 3-4 minutes longer, stirring frequently. Add the minced garlic and stir quickly for about 20-30 seconds. Do not let garlic scorch. Remove skillet from heat.
  8. Drain the cooked pasta.
  9. Add the pasta and sautéed vegetables to the sauce mixture in bowl. Stir gently to completely combine ingredients. Lastly, stir in the black beans, cherry, grape, or currant tomatoes, and frozen corn.
  10. Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish.

Topping: Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup shredded cheese evenly over casserole top. Sprinkle Crunchy Fried Onion Toppers over casserole. (Or, alternatively, melt 2½ tbsp of butter to mix with ½ cup of bread crumbs in a small bowl. Stir with a fork. Sprinkle bread crumbs over casserole. Crushed Tortilla Chips may also be used as a casserole topping or the casserole may be left plain.)

  1. Bake casserole, uncovered, for approximately 28-30 minutes, just until edges of casserole become bubbly. Remove from oven and let stand at least 15 minutes to allow the bubbling sauce to absorb into the casserole ingredients and set before serving. Serve with a side salad and biscuits, rolls, or bread.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 6 servings

 

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Pasta Casserole
Sausage, Black Beans, and Pasta Casserole
Looking for more casserole recipes? Check out these from My Island Bistro Kitchen:

Chicken and Ham Casserole
Green Bean Casserole
Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole
Chicken Chow Mein Casserole Recipe
Turnip Puff Casserole
Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole
Seafood Bubbly Bake

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