Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sausage and Vegetables

I love the whole process of roasting vegetables.  It cleans out the refrigerator or other vegetable storage container. It warms the kitchen on these numbingly cold days.  It results in a nutritious side dish with lots of vitamins and fiber.  It’s incredibly easy.  Oh yeah, don’t let me forget the most important part: it makes delicious, delicious food.

Lately, instead of trying to come up with an appropriate protein to serve alongside my vegetables, I’ve upgraded the roasted vegetable side dish to a one-pan main dish by adding sausage.  Just put some sausage in the pan with the vegetables and roast them all together.  Everyone gets along just fine.  It’s just that easy.

I prefer spicy, uncooked and uncured sausage links, such as the spicy chicken Italian sausage from Trader Joe’s that I used most recently.  I like the way a bit of the spicy flavor of the sausage mingles with the vegetables, but this is much more subtle when a lean sausage is used rather than one that can render plenty of flavorful fat to contribute to the vegetables during the roasting process.  Either way, the sausage gets browned and a little crusty, just how I like it.  And if it overcooks? Well, I tend to enjoy a well-browned and gnarly hunk of sausage just fine, thank you.  What you’re really concerned about is undercooking, anyway.  Just make sure that your sausage is appropriately cooked through before serving it. If you use a fully-cooked sausage, just add it later in the roasting process to prevent overcooking.

Since I’ve been eating this stuff on weekend afternoons while watching the end of the football season, I have also found it necessary to serve this with a dipping sauce.  Football and dip just go too well together to pass up this garnishing opportunity.  Lots of dips will work, but I’ve been making an aioli (garlic mayonnaise) with parsley that almost upstages the beautiful vegetables and sausage.  It’s quite simple to make (you need something to do while waiting for the oven’s work to be done anyway), involving just mayonnaise, garlic-salt paste, and a bit of parsley.  I use homemade whole egg mayonnaise, using this recipe from Delicious Days, but if you don’t care to make your own, you could use a good store-bought mayonnaise.  If the taste isn’t where you want it, try adding some lemon juice.

Pretty much all of the winter storage vegetables will work to make this dish.  Most recently, I made it with butternut squash, turnips, parsnips, carrots and potatoes.  If you, or someone you love, doesn’t “do” these sweet, bitter and hardy vegetables, the dish is great with just potatoes and sausage.  And you can use whatever dip you like, too.  Heck, try it with ketchup for all I care.  Just don’t miss out on this easy, warming and flavorful one-pan meal.

Roasted Winter Vegetables and Sausage

If you use a fully-cooked sausage, add it later in the cooking process, say after the first 20 minutes, to keep it from becoming hopelessly overcooked.

6 cups fall/winter storage vegetables (such as potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, parsnips, winter squash), peeled if appropriate, and cut into 1-2 inch cubes

¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons coarse (kosher) salt, or to taste
a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
3 links (10-12 ounces) sausage (I prefer spicy sausage) with casing

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, combine the vegetables with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir together to coat the vegetables well with the oil.

2. Place the vegetables in a large roasting pan or a sheet pan. Cut the sausage into about 2-inch pieces. Add the sausage to the vegetables in the pan.

3. Bake at 400 F for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally with a spatula to prevent sticking. Check to make sure the vegetables and sausage (especially the sausage) are cooked completely. Serve plain or with dipping sauce, such as Garlic Parsley Aioli (recipe follows).

Makes 4 servings

Garlic-Parsley Aioli

1 garlic clove
¼ teaspoon (or more) coarse salt plus more to taste
1 cup mayonnaise
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
lemon juice to taste (optional)

1. Make a smooth paste with the garlic and salt. Stir the garlic-salt paste into the mayonnaise. Stir in the parsley. Add lemon juice to taste if desired and adjust seasonings. Chill until ready to serve.

Makes 1 cup

Other recipes like these: Roasted Vegetables; Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpeas and Olives; Cilantro Cream Dipping Sauce; Lime Herb Dipping Sauce

One year ago: Pumpkin Oatmeal Quick Bread with Dates and Pecans

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