As I mentioned in my Friday Faves, I spent this past weekend running in a 200, excuse me, 203 mile relay race series called Ragnar. For those of you not familiar with these kinds of races, let me explain. There were 301 teams running this 203 mile race, with each team comprised of 12 runners. Each runner runs 3 legs of the 203 mile course, with total mileage ranging from 11-20 miles each. Every team is also split up into two vans, so when runners from one van are running, the other can rest, sleep, and eat. Oh, and it goes over a 26+ hour span so you don’t do much of that ‘resting’ I just mentioned.
Basically, it was one of the greatest things I’ve ever been a part of. The women of the team were so incredibly inspiring, supportive, and just awesome. Did I mention our team, Pretty Fast In Pink, won the Women’s Division? Like I said, my teammates were awesome.
When I got home from the race on Saturday afternoon, I was ready for three things: a beer, dinner, and sleep. My wonderful husband took care of my first two needs, then pretty much carried me to bed around 7:30. I then proceeded to sleep 13 straight hours. On Sunday I woke up (somewhat) refreshed and hangry, and my cravings were quite exact: goat cheese and pasta. I’m not one to ignore such a delicious craving, so I went with it and came up with this pasta.
This pasta dish is a perfect dinner for transitioning from summer to fall. It uses late summer veggies like summer squash and green beans, and is the ideal comfort food for a chilly summer night. The sausage lends a great flavor to the dish – a little spiciness but not overpowering. I also used Italian chicken sausage, but you could certainly use regular sausage or turkey sausage too.
And then the goat cheese sauce – oh heaven is it good. It is made by starting a simple roux with a little butter and flour, then mixing in milk, mozzarella cheese, and an entire log of goat cheese. I also amped it up by adding a dash of nutmeg and some lemon zest which I would definitely not leave out. The nutmeg adds a bit of depth to the sauce while the lemon zest brightens it up. All together it was incredibly delicious! The entire dish is topped with a little sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, then popped into the oven, only to come out 20 minutes later bubbling and golden brown on top.
The great thing about this baked pasta (besides how tasty it is) is that it can be easily adapted to whatever vegetables and protein you have on hand. I could see broccoli, carrots, spinach, kale, red peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes all working well in this pasta along with bacon or chicken. Just don’t mess with the goat cheese sauce. It’s perfect, as is.