I very much grew up in a meat and potatoes household. Our dinner menus were as predictable as the negotiating was to get out of doing dishes. Every night there was a meat entree — ground beef made into burgers, meatloaf, sloppy joes — with some form of potato — be it baked, mashed, or frozen fries. A side of canned green beans or corn would round out our plates. And for dessert we never received more than two small sandwich cookies.
This is my comfort food. This is what I fall back to when I’m homesick, too exhausted to think through a meal plan, or just want to keep things really simple.
So many of my recipes are fresh takes on old favorites, and that’s exactly what I’m serving up here. There’s nothing new with this recipe, it’s been served out of casserole dishes for decades. What is new is the realization that you can make it a little more wholesome, but just as savory, familiar, and comforting.
Typically, this dish calls for kielbasa sausage, baking potatoes, butter, and cheddar cheese. Clearly, that combination is delicious and it’s no surprise that we all love it so much. BUT… here’s the rub… it’s also no surprise that the combo isn’t that good for you.
The potatoes are the obvious culprit, having gotten a bad nutrition rap in recent years. However, they’re innocent. Those potatoes bring loads of nutrition to the table. While your standard russet potato offers a bit of fiber and protein, these other varieties deliver even more. Each one-cup serving of the sweet, purple, red, and Yukon potatoes offers anywhere from 2-4 grams each of fiber and protein… per potato! Plus, potatoes deliver twice as much potassium as the average banana, and are an extremely rich source of vitamin A.
The “problem” with the traditional version is the fat. The sausage, butter, and cheese make this a very greasy, fatty dish. But we’re able to lighten it up by skipping the butter entirely, using a better cheese, and being a bit more selective with the meat.
I love that smoky, sweet taste that comes from a great kielbasa sausage, and fortunately you can get that in the turkey version. It’s much leaner and just as tasty! If that’s not your jam though, choose an all-beef kielbasa.
Instead of the butter I use just a little bit of olive oil. You don’t need much because the sausage produces enough oil for this dish. I add about a tablespoon, but you mind find a little less is suitable, too. Originally it calls for cheddar, but I found something better. Parmesan, especially of good quality, has such robust flavor and complements this dish well without adding unnecessary fat and calories. Save it for the end and sprinkle across the top, almost more garnish than ingredient.
Finally, I bulked this out with extra vegetables and spices. I did it as much for flavor as I did a simple way to get in some more veggies. I like the sweeter orange or red bell peppers, but you can use any variety you like. Chop with a sweet yellow onion and you really round-out the flavor and nutrition profile of this really easy, really satisfying dinner!
Roasted Kielbasa and Four Potato Casserole
1 kielbasa smoked sausage, slice in to 1/2” rounds
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
4-5 cups potatoes, chopped in small cubes; we used a sweet potato, red skins, purples, and Yukon golds
1 Tbsp. olive oil
cracked black pepper
1/2 Tbsp. paprika
1/2 Tbsp. dried Italian seasonings
1 cup fresh grated parmesan
fresh chopped Italian parsley
1. Heat the oven 400F.
2. Rinse and chop the potatoes, onion, pepper, and sausage and put in a large bowl. Add the oil and spices. Toss it all together.
3. Pour in a 9×13 casserole dish and bake for 30-45 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
4. Cover with the parmesan and parsley and let melt. Then serve!
BONUS SERVING SUGGESTIONS!!
1. Top it with a fried egg. Now that egg yolks and cholesterol are off the no-fly list, this is a sensational finishing touch. It also transforms this dish from dinner to brunch!
2. Serve it with more veggies, like fresh steamed green beans or a big salad.
3. Take it camping. Whether in the woods or your backyard, skip the casserole dish and make campfire “hobo dinners” in single-serve foil packets.
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Recipe by Brandi Koskie; Photos by Kacy Meinecke