If you like the flavor combination of sausage and peppers and the cheesy goodness of lasagna, you'll love this Low-Carb Sausage and Roasted Peppers Mock Lasagna Casserole! This delicious mock lasagna is also gluten-free
(Makes 6-8 servings; inspired by Slow Cooker Sausage and Four Cheese Lasagna from The Perfect Pantry and perfected with recipe testing help from Jake and Kara.)
5 links (19.5 oz.) hot or mild turkey Italian sausage (I used Jenni-O Hot sausage)
2 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced small
2-3 tsp. minced garlic
1 can (14.5 oz.) crushed tomatoes with juice
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with juice
1 T tomato paste
1 T Dijon mustard (probably optional but highly recommended)
1 tsp. Italian Sausage Seasoning (optional; you could use Italian seasoning instead if you have that)
4-6 T chopped fresh basil, divided (I used my frozen basil; use basil pesto from a jar or chopped basil from a tube if you don't have fresh or frozen basil.)
2/3 C + 2/3 C grated Mozzarella
1 cup cottage cheese
15 oz. Ricotta cheese (slightly over 2 cups of ricotta)
1/2 C + 1/4 C grated Parmesan
4 or 5 fresh red bell peppers (We used 4 peppers, but next time I would use 5. If you're not up for roasting peppers, use 2 jars -12 oz. each - of roasted red peppers, drain them well and pat dry.)
Heat the olive oil in a large deep frying pan, squeeze the turkey Italian sausage into the pan and cook over medium-high heat until the sausage is nicely browned and all liquid has evaporated. Break it apart with a turner (or use an old-fashioned potato masher) while it cooks. When the sausage is brown add the diced onion and minced garlic and cook 2-3 minutes more.
Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Dijon mustard, Italian sausage seasoning (if using), and 2-3 T chopped basil, stir to combine, then turn the heat to low and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and you have a thick sauce, about 15-20 minutes.
While the sauce simmers, mix 2/3 cup Mozzarella, cottage cheese, Ricotta cheese, eggs, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and the other 2-3 T chopped basil to make the cheese mixture.
Preheat broiler and spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray. Cut each pepper in quarters lengthwise, cutting away the stem and seeds, and place peppers skin side up on the baking sheet. Put the baking sheet with the peppers about 3-4 inches away from the broiler heat element and broil peppers until the skin is mostly black and charred. (You will have to watch them, actual time will depend on your broiler.)
When the pepper skins are mostly black and charred immediately transfer peppers to a plastic or glass bowl and cover with cling-wrap. Let them steam in the bowl about 15 minutes, then peel the skins from the peppers. (The skin should come off quite easily, but no problem if a little skin stays on.)
Switch the oven to bake and preheat to 375F/190C. Spray a large baking dish with non-stick spray. (I used a dish that was 13" x 8" but any similar size will work.)
Make layers with half the roasted peppers, half the sausage sauce, and half the cheese mixture, spreading out the sauce and cheese mixture so it's even and covers the whole surface. Then make a second layer of each ingredient with the second half of the roasted peppers, sausage sauce, and cheese mixture. Sprinkle the other 2/3 cup grated Mozzarella and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan over the top.
Bake 45-55 minutes or until the the casserole is bubbling and the top is browned to your liking. Serve hot, with a little more grated Parmesan to add at the table if desired. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for several days and can also be frozen, and this reheats well.