Posts Tagged ‘sausage’

All in the pot – late summer vegetable casserole with sausage

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

As the days grow shorter, the temperatures fall and the maple trees turn red and yellow, I cherish those last few flings with fresh garden vegetables. So I’m a regular at farmers markets – the closest to garden produce you can get in a big city, unless you grow your own. Colorful peppers, eggplants, squash and zucchini, string beans, tomatoes – they all get dragged home to be transformed into salads, used with pasta, stir fries and stews. I just counted three bowls with different types of tomatoes on my kitchen counter – as usual I’ve overdone it. The same with the peppers and the zucchini – I have a mix of yellow, green and red ones staring at me. There is also a disturbing orange cauliflower that scares me every time I open the fridge.

At this time of the year I stay away from root vegetables, which I associate with cold, gray weather, and try to use the seasonal ones in simple dishes. I limit the seasoning to salt and pepper, with fresh thyme, rosemary and a lot of garden mint, parsley and cilantro (coriander). With fresh-from-the-field produce I don’t want to overdo it.

veg_casserole

The dish I’ve made is not really a stew, as I didn’t cook it for a long time. Actually the shorter you cook it the better. It resembles Provençal ratatouille, but all is cooked in one pot and I use whatever is in my fridge, including some leftover beer (could be wine or nothing at all). If I had I would throw in some green tomatoes, too. This colorful fuss-free dish can be served as main, or as side to roasted chicken, fish or chops. Needless to say, for a vegetarian version leave the sausage out.

Vegetable casserole with sausage

  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
  • 4-6 small fresh Polish or Italian sausages – cut into 3 inch (7 cm) pieces
  • 3 sweet banana peppers, cut in rounds
  • 2 handfuls of yellow or green string beens – trimmed and cut 2 inches long (4 cm)
  • 3 small zucchini – green and yellow mixed – quartered lengthwise and cut to bite size
  • 1 medium eggplant, quartered lengthwise and cut into bite size pieces (if it has brown seeds, salt it and wait 30 minutes to get rid of bitterness)
  • 1 pound (500 gr) firm Roma tomatoes – quartered lengthwise
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • leaves from 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup beer or wine (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped parsley or cilantro (coriander)

Sweat the onion in 2 tbsp olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add sausage and cook 3 minutes. Add the peppers, beens and eggplant, the rosemary and thyme, season it with salt and pepper and cook on medium low heat for 5-7 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for another 5 minutes stirring carefully not to mash the vegetables too much. Here you can add the last 1 tbsp of olive oil if too dry. The tomatoes come last with the beer or wine if you are using it. Increase heat to medium and cook another 10 minutes until the juices in the pot are reduced by half. Serve sprinkled with parsley and country style bread to soak the juices. It tastes even better the next day.

The eggs I love – Spanish tortilla with potatoes, ricotta and sausage

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Until my early twenties I was a dedicated egg-phobe. Then I was suddenly converted, and though I still won’t touch an underdone egg, I love ingredient-loaded omelets. When I discovered Spanish tortilla (not to be confused with the flour and corn tortillas of Central America), I fell in love from the first bite. This is the universal crowd-pleaser and my brunch or weekend dinner staple.

Thicker than the Italian frittata and usually containing my other favorites – potatoes – this Spanish omelet has as striking a flavor as its looks. It’s easier to make too, as you don’t have to fight to flip it over, but simply bake it in the oven. It can stoically take on whatever you throw at it, and no fridge push-around need be wasted again. The classic one with potatoes is great, but I’ve done it with zucchini, parsnip, feta cheese, Parmesan, bacon, various types of dried and fresh herbs, and combinations of the above. It’s a successes every time, and the only person who refuses to eat it is my daughter – the new egg-phobe in the family.

I finally have a cast-iron paella pan, perfect for tortillas too, which I put to heavy use. The recipe is enough for four as a weekday supper, or for eight as part of a weekend brunch with friends. If there are leftovers, they are very good the next day and make a great lunchbox item. I often wrap them in whole-wheat tortillas with Tabasco’s Chipotle sauce and fresh cilantro (coriander). I love to answer the what’s-for-lunch question – tortilla in tortilla.

For a vegetarian version skip the sausage.

Spanish tortilla with potatoes, sausage, ricotta and fresh herbs

serves 4

  • 6 – 8 large eggs – free range or organic
  • ½ cup fresh ricotta (or thick sour cream)
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled, cubed or sliced into thin rounds
  • ½ pound good quality sausage (I use Polish sausage with thyme and garlic and no preservatives added) – cubed the same size as the potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup mixed chopped dill, mint and parsley (or cilantro)
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • salt, freshly ground black pepper, Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F (200°C) – with racks positioned in the middle. In a heavy-bottomed oven-proofed frying pan (cast iron is best), melt the butter and olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the potatoes until slightly brown and tender – about 10 minutes. In the meantime beat eggs in a bowl to break the egg yolks. Add the ricotta and beat well – though some cheese lumps are OK. Season with salt and black pepper to taste, add the herbs and green onions and mix.

When the potatoes are ready, take them out of the pan with slotted spoon and stir into the egg-cheese mixture. Add sausage to the pan and fry for 5 minutes, until sightly brown. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Pour over the egg-cheese-and-potatoes mixture, stir well, and let cook on medium low for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and transfer the pan to the oven to bake for 10-15 minutes or until the top of the tortilla is set and slightly brown.

Serve warm with the pan (makes a great impression) with rustic bread and simple green salad. My son loves it with a few drops of Tabasco Chipotle sauce. I have it with extra Bulgarian cheese, feta style.

Goes great with a light, bubbly Portuguese Vinho Verde or Italian Prosseco for a more elegant experience.


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