Pasta with Sausage Porcini Mushrooms and Roasted Peppers

Olive oil cooking spray
12-oz penne pasta
½ cup minced onion
2 cloves minced or pressed garlic
1½ to 2 red bell peppers roasted and cut into thin strips
½ pound fresh or reconstituted porcini mushrooms, thinly sliced or chopped (1 cup dry)
1/8 to a ¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
¾ lb spicy or sweet turkey Italian sausage cooked and drained of any fat
¾ cup 50% less fat cream cheese, softened (6 ounces)
½ cup fat free half and half
¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese plus 4 tablespoons more for serving
¼ cup fresh basil

1. In a large pot of water cook pasta until al dente, then rinse and drain pasta and set aside. If using dried mushrooms, add very hot water to cover mushrooms and soak for 30 minutes, drain off liquid in into separated container and set mushrooms aside after chopping. Strain liquid through a sieve to remove sediments and set aside.

2. To roast peppers place oven rack on top shelf directly below broiler. Turn broiler on high 500 degrees. Cut peppers in half and place seed side down/ skins side up on a foil lined baking sheet. Place baking sheet under broiler. Leaving oven door ajar so that you can see peppers roast until pepper skin is dark brown and charred. Don’t let the peppers become too burned or you will not be able to peel the skin off of them. After peppers have roasted remove from oven and put into a zip lock bag or container than you can seal. Allow the peppers to sweat 15 to 20 minutes then remove from container and peel skin off of peppers under cool running water, drain, slice or chop and set aside. Reserve any juice peppers leave in container and set aside.

3. Heat a large deep skillet or casserole sprayed lightly with nonstick cooking spray over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium- high, add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook until mushrooms are tender 3 to 4 minutes. If mushrooms begin to dry out add a little of the liquid from the reconstituted mushrooms or roasted peppers.

4. Reduce medium-low add roasted peppers, Italian sausage and pasta to pan along with cream cheese and fat free half and half. Toss the pasta together with the other ingredients until the sauce is creamy. If sauce becomes too thick add a small amounts mushroom and/or pepper liquid. Stir in the grated cheese and chopped basil and toss until combined. Remove from heat and divide pasta among 4 large shallow serving bowls and sprinkle each with tablespoon additional cheese.

Yield 6 servings each at approximately 450 calories; 9.8 grams total fat; 5.5 grams saturated fat; 52 milligrams cholesterol; 62 grams total carbohydrate; 4 grams dietary fiber; 28.5 grams total protein; 1261 milligrams sodium.

High fat version contains 700 calories and 40 grams total fat.

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