Monday, February 8, 2016

Vegetable Saute made better with Sausage

One of my favorite things lately is Italian sausage. The mild, or sweet, variety is the one I like best. I’m finding ways to get it into just about everything. It’s kind of like bacon - everything is better with bacon. Sausage is sort of the same thing.

Italian sausage is made with pork and usually contains seasonings, of which fennel seeds reign supreme. Fennel is a great addition to pork. They are really fantastic together.

I usually buy the uncooked variety of Italian sausage that’s in a casing, and simply squeeze it out like I’m milking an udder! I always laugh when I do this because that’s the visual I get. You can also buy the meat loose (not in a casing) but sometimes that’s hard to find. If you can find it loose, save some work and get it, otherwise get the sausage in the casing.

Italian food has always intrigued me. There’s something about that cuisine that speaks to me. It’s as if it calls my name. Pasta and sauce doesn’t do it for me though. The meats and the vegetables are by far so much more interesting and flavorful, not to mention healthier. So it’s no wonder that I ended up putting these ingredients together. 

I was looking through the fridge and saw that I had a TON of vegetables I had to use up soon. I decided to put this combination  together and see what would result. I have to say that I simply loved it. I ate it 3 days in a row! It makes a lot. I’d wager it made about 5-6 servings.

Sausage and Veg Saute

Olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 eggplant, peeled, and chopped into small chunks
1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch of kale, tough stems removed, and chopped*
1 package brown crimini mushrooms, sliced**
15-20 Kalamata olives, pitted

You’re going to need two sauté pans going concurrently. I use one regular stainless steel pan that gets meat nice and brown, and the other is the non-stick variety for the veggies.

Start with the non-stick pan and heat a Tbsp of olive oil in it. Once that’s warm, add your chopped onion and cook about 10 minutes until soft. Add your peeled and chopped eggplant. Make sure the eggplant isn’t a small dice but isn’t too large a chunk either, or it will take too long to cook. Keep that going while you start the stainless steel pan. Don’t forget to stir that every so often so the eggplant doesn’t burn. A little color on the veggies is a good thing though. Adds flavor.

Put just a little oil in your second pan and get this one really nice and hot. Add your sausage meat and turn it when it is nice and brown on one side. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the meat is done. Turn off the pan just before it gets too done. Since the pan is hot it will continue cooking a few minutes longer as it cools down.

Back to the veggie pan (you can do this simultaneously while the meat is cooking): add the garlic to the eggplant and cook about 1 minute. Add the chopped kale (or chard) and cook that down until it wilts (about 10-15 minutes). Add the mushrooms and sauté another 8-10 minutes. If you like a little spice, you could add a few red pepper flakes at this point. Otherwise, just add salt and pepper to taste and then the olives. No need to cook those. We only need to warm them up.  Taste it and make sure all your veggies are cooked to your level of doneness and add more seasoning if it requires it.

Give it all a good stir and enjoy!

Notes on ingredients:

* There are a few varieties of kale to choose from. Those that I most often find are (1) curly kale, (2) Lacinto, (3) Redbor, and (4) Russian (Siberian) kale. I am not fond of the Redbor. I find it scratchy and tough. My favorite is the Lacinto (sometimes called Dinosaur kale). In the absence of Lacinto, I usually buy the curly kale.

** Crimini mushrooms are a little more earthy and flavorful than the regular white mushrooms you usually see. I tend to buy these for that reason. Don’t wash in water. Simply wipe them clean and slice off the stems.

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