What You Need:
¾ lb fully cooked sausage, sliced (I used roasted pepper & onion chicken sausage)
2 cups spaghetti sauce (I used this sauce )
1 ½ cups cooked brown rice (I eyeballed this, could have been close to 1 ¾ cups)
1 medium red onion, diced
1 – 16 oz bag frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed of its water
1 cup low fat cottage cheese, preferably low sodium
½ tomato, thinly sliced
4 oz fresh mozzarella (ovolini – egg size), drained and thinly sliced
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup fresh basil, divided and torn or roughly chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
1 Tbs fresh oregano, roughly chopped (or ½ tsp dried)
3-5 cloves garlic, minced (to taste)
2 tsp olive oil
¼ - ½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper, plus 2 pinches
2 pinches salt (about 1/8 tsp)
Preheat oven to 350*.
Next, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat with 2 tsp oil. Once hot, add the sliced sausage and sauté for 6-8 minutes or until deeply browned on both sides. Remove sausage from pan and set aside.
Add the onion to the skillet and reduce heat to medium. Sauté for 10-12 minutes, adding the garlic during the last minute of cooking. Season the mixture with 2 pinches of salt and pepper.
While the onion does its thing, puree the cottage cheese with ¼ - ½ tsp black pepper (to taste), oregano and half of the basil (roughly chopped) until smooth in your small food processor or blender.
Combine browned sausage, sautéed onion, brown rice, the cottage cheese mixture, spinach and egg in a large bowl. Stir gently to combine.
Spoon casserole into a large baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray and top with sliced mozzarella and tomato, alternating.
Cover and bake for 35-45 minutes with a foil lid loosely secured. You’ll know it’s time to take the lid of when small bubbles have formed at the sides of the baking dish.
Bake for an additional 15-18 minutes with the cover off or until golden brown at the edges. Serve with reserved basil, torn.