Category: Sausage

French Lentil Sausage Rapini Stew

I have something to tell you guys. I did something a few nights ago that scared the heck out of me. Are you ready?… I catered my first dinner. I mean for real! SOMEONE ACTUALLY PAID ME TO COME TO THEIR HOUSE AND COOK FOR THEM! And it was a big success! I still can’t believe it. It was sooooo much work and so stressful and even if I never do it again I feel like I left my safe little world and wandered out into the dark night and KICKED BUTT!


And now we return you to our regular programming…

I am still recovering from cooking for 3 days straight so I decided to do a one-pot dinner last night and holy, it was gooooood! I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen (love the Deb) as my inspiration but made my usual tweaks.

I reduced the oil to fry the sausage because isn’t sausage “self-oiling”?? I used chicken stock instead of plain water and reduced the amount of liquid to make a thicker stew rather than soup. I amped up the flavour with cheese rinds* and used French lentils because I love the way they keep their shape after cooking and don’t go mushy. Oh, and the biggest change, rapini instead of chard… hello! I LUUUUUV me some rapini. The tasty green bitterness makes my mouth happy. And think of finishing almost any soup or stew with a squeeze of lemon as pixie dust, just a little bit o’ magic to take it over the top.

*(You ARE saving your cheese rinds from your Parmesan and Pecorino, aren’t you? Throw those suckers in the freezer and add them to your soups and stews!)

one glug plus 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 large links of Italian sausage (I used one hot and one sweet), casings removed
1 medium onion, diced (or 1/2 onion plus 1 shallot)
1 celery stalk, sliced or diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into half-moons or diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (reserve half for later in recipe)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup French green lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can good quality whole tomatoes (Italian plum or San Marzano)
4 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
parmesan or other cheese rinds, if you have them
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 bunch of rapini, stalks separated from the leaves, everything chopped into 2″ pieces
Grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
1/2 fresh lemon to finish

Heat a glug of olive oil in a large pot on medium heat and add sausages, breaking up until it starts to brown, about five minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrots, first two garlic cloves, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the vegetables soften a bit, another 5 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaves, tomatoes, stock or water, cheese rinds if using, and more salt and black pepper to taste. Bring to a VERY gentle simmer and allow to cook uncovered until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 30-40 minutes. If your soup starts to get dry or too thick, add some water.

When the lentils are cooked, taste and add a pinch of red pepper flakes if you would like more spice. Add the rapini stalks and cook for 2 minutes until just tender. Add the leaves and stir until they are softened, just a minute. Discard the bay leaves and any cheese rinds that haven’t melted into the stew.

To finish, put the 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 garlic cloves in a small skillet over medium heat until the garlic softens and barely starts to brown. Ladle the stew into bowls and drizzle the garlic oil over the top. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon and garnish with the grated cheese. I like to serve with grilled bread or toast.

Zucchini Gratin

zucchini gratin3I’ve never been a fan of zucchini but I somehow got suckered into buying it at the local farmers’ market last weekend. They then languished in the crisper for another 4 days until I could no longer ignore them. Ugh. Stupid beautiful fresh garden vegetables… what the heck am I going to do with you?!?!

I went hunting online for zucchini recipes and found tons for salad (boring), fried (they’ll never become crispy… I don’t believe you), and muffins and breads (but I don’t waaaant to add sugar to vegetables), and then… gratin. Hmmmmm, what do I think about gratin? Add cheese to vegetables, bake until it melts together into dreaminess then top with cheesy, crunchy deliciousness?? SOLD!

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Spicy Sausage and Fennel Galette

galette sausage fennel 5Happy pie day a day late!!! Pie is good. Pie is usually sweet but can be savoury. Pie has a beautiful crust. Pie is… a bit straight-laced. And pie, well she can stress me out.

Don’t get me wrong! I do love a good fruit pie with a piece of cheese, or a tart and tangy shaker pie full of slices of lemon with a piece of cheese. Do you see a pattern here? Why not put cheese IN… THE… PIE?!?! And what if that pie was just a little more hippy-dippy than your usual pie? What if that pie was the sort of free form pie that wore gauzy shirts and long skirts and beaded twine bracelets? What if that pie was *GASP*, Galette?!?!

Whoa lady.

Galette is 78.3% easier than pie and every bit as impressive. The dough comes together in about 15 minutes, give it an hour or so in the fridge to get nice and cold, roll that puppy out into sort of a circle, scoop on your filling and fold up the edges. 40 minutes in the oven and she’s all yours. Ahhh Galette. J’taime.

Now that I’ve sold you on galette, let me sell you on something else you are going to love but you don’t know it yet… savoury galette. That’s right… saaaaaavoury. And not just savoury but spicy with delicious sausage balanced with the sweetness of fennel and topped with smoked cheese. Ya, you heard me.

The filling is inspired by this recipe. The dough is my usual recipe which you can find here but you can use any pie crust dough that you are comfortable with. You will need enough to make one round about 14-15 inches across and slightly thicker than 1/8th inch.

Use whatever sausage you like but make sure to taste the filling and adjust the seasoning before you spoon it onto the dough. Every sausage is different so yours might need a dash of salt, a touch of sugar, or a shake of worchestershire to give it some depth. It’s much easier to correct the seasoning at this point than after the pie is made.

Pie crust dough to make one round 14-15 inches across
1 pound spicy sausage meat (I used regular hot Italian but fennel would also be delicious)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in oil, chopped
1 cup shredded smoked cheese (gouda or mozzarella)
2 TBS chopped fresh sage
2 TBS chopped fresh rosemary
1 egg, lightly beaten with a teaspoon water for egg wash
flake sea salt

Heat oven to 375F.

For the filling:

Sprinkle thinly sliced fennel with 1 tsp sugar and set aside.

galette sausage fennel 1

Remove meat from casings if you have purchased it in sausage form and fry over medium high heat until the fat starts to melt and coat your pan. Add onion and fry for about 4 minutes. Add the thinly sliced fennel and continue to fry until everything is soft and lighlty browned, approximately another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sun-dried tomatoes, and chopped sage and rosemary. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.

galette sausage fennel 2

Assemble the galette:

Roll out dough on a clean, lightly floured piece of parchment about 14-15 inches across and slightly thicker than 1/8th inch. No worries if the dough goes over the edges as you will be folding it up over the galette shortly. Scoop filling onto the centre of the dough with a slotted spoon or tongs, leaving behind most of the fat in the pan. Ensure you have a good 2 inch border all around the dough. Sprinkle the top with shredded cheese and fold the border up over the filling, overlapping the dough where necessary and press down lightly to create the folds.

galette sausage fennel 3

galette sausage fennel 6

Brush the border with the egg wash and sprinkle with flake sea salt. Slide the parchment with the dough onto a cookie sheet and place in oven. Cook for 35-40 minutes until crust is golden.

galette sausage fennel 4

Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before cutting. Serve alongside a salad with a zesty, fresh dressing to balance the richness of the pie.