Brussels Sprouts, Italian Sausage and Balsamic Glaze

brussels sprouts and sausage

If brussels sprouts always seem to make an appearance on your holiday table then you’re in for a real treat with this delicious combination. Roasted brussels sprouts tossed together with the flavors of sweet Italian sausage flecked with fennel and spices and adorned with a rich, aged balsamic glaze.

This creation came to me last year by way of a friend and fellow blogger Lori, at Taste With The Eyes and I’ve been making it ever since. I served it for my family last Thanksgiving and I have to say not only does it taste amazing, it makes a gorgeous presentation on the table.brussels sprouts and sausage

Those of you who are on the fence about brussels sprouts I urge you to give this a try, the combination of the Italian sausage and the sweet balsamic glaze helps to cut the slight bitterness of the brussels sprouts, and roasting them heightens the flavor.

brussels sprouts and sausage

The holidays are upon us with Thanksgiving right around the corner get out your prettiest platter and grace your table with this amazing side dish!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Brussels Sprouts, Italian Sausage and Balsamic Glaze
 
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Ingredients
  • Brussels sprouts, normal to small size
  • Italian sausage, sweet with fennel
  • Good quality balsamic glaze in a squeeze bottle for easy decorating
  • parsley
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Slice your sprouts in half lengthwise
  3. Toss sprouts with a good drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper
  4. Place onto a rimmed baking sheet cut side down and roast until tender and golden but not overcooked or too deep of a caramelization.
  5. In the meantime remove sausage from casing, place into a skillet on the stove and crumble it into bite size pieces.
  6. Cook sausage until completely done, remove and drain on paper towel.
  7. Toss the roasted sprouts with the cooked sausage, add some chopped parsley and place it all on a beautiful platter preferably with a rim so you can decorate it with the glaze.
  8. When your ready to serve and eat it drizzle some balsamic glaze all over the sprouts and sausage ( go light it's very potent, taste to see if it's to your liking) then decorate the rim of the platter with more of the glaze.
  9. NOTE:
  10. You can make this ahead of time and heat it up, everything EXCEPT the glaze, do that the last minute.
  11. Don't get too hung up about amounts just put it together, it all works!

 

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Italian Sausage Roasted Together with Grapes

sausage with grapes

If you haven’t tried the combination of Italian sausage with roasted with grapes yet, I’m quite certain that the minute you do this combo it will win you over. The grapes break down in the roasting process, releasing their sweet juice and mingles together with the sausage flavors of spice, fennel, bit of olive oil and thyme.

When grapes are roasted they take on a whole different taste and texture, sweet goodness in every little bite.

sausage and grapes

I like to keep my sausage formed into a ring, it’s held in place by sticking one skewer in on one side until it pokes out on the other side, making sure to go all the way through each layer, this will keep it together as it cooks. I think a ring of sausage, or rope as it’s sometimes called adds to a pretty presentation, but you can certainly make this using links of sausage as well.

Which brings me to another point, make sure you only buy good quality Italian sausage, I get mine from an Italian market that I know and frequent often, it’s spiced perfectly with fennel seed being a very dominant flavor, my favorite. For this recipe you can use either spicy or mild sausage, which ever is your preference.

 

My grapes of choice are the red seedless kind ( you definitely want seedless) but you can also do a combination of both red and green, just carefully pick them off the stems, rinse and dry completely then you’re good to go!broccoli rabe

I love to serve this meal with sautéed broccoli rabe, the bitterness of the rabe with the sweetness of the grapes and the spice of the sausage is a win, win. For something a little more substantial, on a cold winters night a side of creamy polenta or mashed potatoes would be heavenly!

Incredibly easy to make, no chopping required, it’s a one pan wonder with a pretty presentation and the most important thing is, it tastes amazing.

Give it a try!

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Italian Sausage with Grapes
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, sweet or hot, good quality with fennel spice kept in a ring or rope style
  • red seedless grapes, 2 to 3 cups, stems removed, rinsed, dried and left whole
  • sprigs of thyme
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Skewer your rope of sausage together using 1 skewer through one end and out the other so it stays held together while cooking.
  3. Heat a 10 or 12 inch oven proof skillet, medium high, drizzled with a tiny bit of olive oil on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add sausage ring and don't move it until it forms a nice deep golden color, then flip it over carefully and continue cooking for 1 minute.
  5. Remove from heat and sprinkle grapes around, be careful not to crowd them in because as they cook they release their juice and if you have too many it becomes too liquidy and all will not caramelize like it should. I would say a good rule of thumb is to leave some space between the placing of your grapes.
  6. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter some fresh thyme leaves around.
  7. Place the whole pan into the oven, uncovered to finish cooking the sausage, ( keep checking for doneness, it depends on thickness) during the process your grapes will wrinkle and begin to release their juices.

 

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Cassoulet- Italian Style

cassoulet

What is a cassoulet? It a dish originated in France which is basically a rich, slow cooked casserole typically made with white beans and a meat of some sort. It’s a hearty dish and quite perfect for the cooler temperatures we’re experiencing now as fall approaches.

In place of the more traditional meats the French would use, I wanted to make mine Italian style by adding some good quality Italian sausage. I chose one that is nicely spiced throughout with a good amount of fennel seed which I feel compliments all the other flavors in this dish.cassoulet beans

 

I have to admit I don’t often cook with dried beans, I like the convenience of canned beans and they taste pretty good. But after making this dish I realized that there is absolutely no comparison to the taste and texture of cooked dried beans to canned.

Even though you could make this dish with canned beans I HIGHLY recommend you go through the process of making them from scratch. Dried beans are readily available but this specific brand, Rancho Gordo might not be so easy to find, especially this type of bean, so I would suggest to order them directly from their website ( and I’m not getting paid to say that). soaked beans

I went with the quick soak method, it helps the beans to cook faster. I also love adding aromatics after they’ve been soaking and ready to simmer, the beans really do take on the flavor and makes them taste even more delicious.

cassoulet

The cooked beans will get tossed in at the last ten minutes of cooking, just enough time to soak up all that luscious tasting juice!

cassoulet

It’s hearty, packed with flavor, simple and rustic and the perfect meal to make when there’s a chill in the air, you will love this!

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Cassoulet- Italian Style
 
Recipe adapted from Pam Anderson's Perfect One Dish Dinners
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1½ lb. Italian sausage with fennel seed or 6 nice size pieces
  • 3 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion cut into large chunks
  • 4 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • olive oil
  • thyme and rosemary
  • 4 cups of cooked dried beans preferred, or optional, canned beans
  • 1 lb. of dried beans, either cassoulet or cannellini
  • aromatics for beans to simmer in, such as onion, garlic and herbs
Instructions
  1. PREPARE BEANS, doing the the quick soak method.
  2. Rinse beans well and pick out any bad ones.
  3. Place them into a large pot and cover them with water three inches above the beans.
  4. Bring beans to a boil, turn off the flame and cover them and let them sit for 2 hours.
  5. After 2 hours you will see they have doubled in size, drain the water, return them to the pot and cover with water again.
  6. Add 3 whole garlic cloves, chunks of onion and a sprig of rosemary or thyme and simmer medium low for at least an hour but check for doneness, they should be tender and creamy.
  7. Add salt to taste after they're cooked.
  8. You'll have extra, but save and use for other recipes, (you won't regret it!)
  9. FOR THE CASSOULET
  10. Heat oven to 425F.
  11. In a deep baking dish drizzle the bottom with olive oil all over. Add the tomatoes, (whole), sliced garlic, onion and herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Nestle in your uncooked Italian sausage all around.
  13. Roast until sausages have a deep brown color and the tomatoes have released their juices and thickened up a bit, around 45 minutes.
  14. Remove the pan from the oven and stir in your cooked beans (without liquid) drizzle more olive oil on top and continue to roast for 10 more minutes until nicely heated through.
  15. Freshen up your herbs.
  16. Enjoy!

 

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Stuffed Peppers Italian Style with Sausage and Mozzarella

melrose peppers Normally when you see a recipe for stuffed peppers you’ll see the bell shaped variety being used but I look forward to this time of year because a very special pepper starts to show up in Italian markets around Chicagoland, they’re called Melrose Peppers. I’ve done posts on them in the past like this one.

They came to be called Melrose peppers because as the story goes, many years ago a family from Calabria, Italy eventually settled into a suburb of Chicago called Melrose Pk. They brought with them the seeds of this very special, delicious thinned skinned pepper.They quickly became popular among gardeners in the Italian community and then soon after that they started appearing in all the fruit and vegetable stands, and the rest is history.

stuffing peppers Even though I’m featuring and stuffing my favorite Melrose peppers for this recipe, you can honestly use any type of elongated pepper such as a cubanelle or the sweet and long red pepper variety.

All you’re going to do is cut off the top then take a knife and make a slit down one side but not all the way, you still want the pepper to remain in tact, then just scoop out the seeds.

Then buy the best Italian sausage available, mine always has fennel and red pepper flakes for a little heat. If you can buy it in bulk go ahead, if not just remove it from the casing. Place it into a bowl then add a good amount of shredded mozzarella and mix well, that’s your stuffing!

stuffed peppers Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, then drizzle all over with olive oil and place your peppers onto it after you stuff them with the mixture.

stuffed peppers Then it’s a quick drizzle all over the top, add salt and pepper and place them into a 400 degree oven for about half an hour, depending on what type of pepper you’re using.

stuffed peppers You’re aiming for soft and tender and of course the sausage being fully cooked as well as seeing the cheese has melt.

stuffed peppersstuffed peppers When you’re ready to serve spoon some warm marinara over the top and onto the serving plate.

stuffed peppers The flavor combination is divine, this is stuffed peppers at it’s finest!

stuffed peppers

Add some crusty bread with a nice green salad and dinner is served!

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Sausage Bread

sausage breadsausage bread This recipe of sausage bread connects me to my childhood, I remember my mom use to make this for special holidays and occasions. When I was a kid I thought making this was such a big ordeal, but when I got married and started making it on my own I realized just how simple it was to put together.

sausage bread You need one batch of pizza dough, you can either buy it or make your own. I have to admit working with yeast is not my favorite thing to do, I use to be more enthusiastic when I was younger, now I avoid it at all costs, I’d rather go out and buy a good quality pizza dough which fortunately I have many sources that surround me.

You’ll also need the best Italian sausage you can find, I like using hot, it adds so much flavor and honestly rolled up in all that bread dough you can hardly taste the heat. You’ll need a good melting cheese like mozzarella or in this case I used a cheese called Tuma, available only at Eastertime here in Chicagoland. Basically you will need a cheese that melts and then binds when cooled. Grated Romano, lots of black pepper and some fresh chopped parsley top off all the flavors.

There are any different variations of this sausage bread but this is my favorite.

sausage breadsausage bread Roll the mixture up jelly roll style being careful to fold the ends in while rolling and then make sure to pinch the dough together to seal the edges then bake it seam side down so no leakage occurs.

sausage bread Every time I make this I say I should of added some additional red pepper flakes or more Romano, so don’t be afraid to spice it up!

sausage bread

You won’t believe how something so simple to make can taste like a million bucks, I hope you try this sausage bread!

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4.7 from 3 reviews
Sausage Bread
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 ball of pizza dough, store bought or homemade
  • 1 lb. of hot or medium Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 8 oz. of brick mozzarella, cut into small chunks, do not use fresh mozzarella. I also like Tuma cheese which is only available during Easter time
  • a good ½ cup or so of grated romano cheese.
  • fresh parsley
  • black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 egg for brushing on top
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Have your dough at room temperature before rolling out.
  3. Brown sausage in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil,cooking until you see no pink, breaking up the pieces into medium crumbles, let it cool down a bit before adding to the dough.
  4. Roll your dough into a large rectangle.
  5. Scatter cooked sausage all over dough leaving a 1 inch border all the way around.
  6. Sprinkle you chunked mozzarella or Tuma cheese evenly all over sausage.
  7. Sprinkle grated cheese, evenly all over.
  8. Sprinkle chopped parsley, all over.
  9. Grate black pepper on top of mixture, at this point you could add some additional red pepper flakes or more grated cheese, it's up to you, depending on the heat of your sausage.
  10. Start to roll the dough, jelly roll style, tucking in the ends as you're rolling so no leakage occurs while baking, pinching dough making sure it's sealed at the seams.
  11. Place large log unto a parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down. ( make sure seam is pinched and sealed.)
  12. Brush top and sides with beaten egg, (you won't use the whole thing) grate some black pepper on top.
  13. Bake for 30 minutes then check, you want a deep golden brown, I did 10 more minutes on my top shelf to make it nice and golden, but you be the judge according to your oven.
  14. Let it rest before cutting into it so that the cheese sets, use a serrated knife and cut small slices, not thick ones.
  15. Serve as a appetizer, lunch with a salad or an addition to any special meal. You could even have some warm marinara for dipping, but I enjoy it just as is.

 

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Corona Beans with Sausage

corona beans and sausage

Are you familiar with Corona beans? They’re a large white bean way bigger than cannellini, an old fashioned heirloom bean from Europe, Italy has a fondness for them. They’re big to begin with in the dry state but when you cook them they become huge, the picture doesn’t really show how big they get but I measured them to be about an inch and a quarter in their cooked state.

They have a nice creamy texture similar to a potato.

slow cooked corona beans

I picked up a bag at the Rancho Gordo store in the Ferry building in San Francisco last week on our vacation, it can be difficult to find Corona beans in the stores most of the time but online you should have no problem.

You will find many producers of these beans but Rancho Gordo is one of my favorites, In fact I love all their beans, and I’m not getting paid to say that!

I decided to go out and buy a new crock pot since I never used mine and gave it away to my daughter, I wanted to slow cook my Corona’s after I saw my friend Cathy make a pot of Greek Gigante beans, which is also a large white bean. She tossed all the ingredients into the crock pot including the dry beans, not pre-soaked, but dry.

I have to say I wouldn’t recommend tossing in dry Corona’s they took forever to cook and to reach that creamy point, it was close to twelve hours, so next time I would definitely pre- soak them overnight to get them started and reduce the simmering time, like I said these beans are huge and they’re not exactly the same type as the Gigante beans that Cathy used, so my recipe instructions will be slightly different than hers.

corona beans and sausage

This is my Italian version of pork and beans! Beans flavored with parmesan, garlic, onions, bacon, thyme, tomatoes and red pepper flakes then after they’re cooked, topped with a ring of the best Italian sausage you can buy, which will be pan seared and placed on top for serving. This is comfort food, stick to your ribs food, a welcome to fall!

corona beans and sausagecorona beans and sausage

You have to be patient, this isn’t a quick meal, you can make the beans the day before if you want either in the slow cooker or simmering on top of the stove, I guarantee your house will smell amazing and it’s definitely worth the wait!

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Corona Beans with Tomatoes, Bacon and Sausage
 
Giant delicious white beans called Corona. Slow simmered until nice and creamy, comfort food all the way!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. dried Corona beans that have been soaked in water overnight for at least 8 hours, then drained
  • 3 oz. bacon, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes or squished whole tomatoes
  • 1 or 2 parmesan rinds
  • a small handful of fresh thyme sprigs
  • a big pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. cooked, pan seared Italian sausage to serve on top of beans when finished cooking
Instructions
  1. Place every single ingredient into a heavy pot or crock pot, simmer low and slow for hours, soaking the beans overnight will shorten the time. The true test for doneness is to taste at least 5 beans because beans all cook at different times.
  2. They should not be hard or have a crunch to the bite but rather they should taste creamy and soft like a potato.
  3. They could take anywhere between 3 - 6 or more hours depending on how high your flame is or how fast your crock pot takes.
  4. Keep tasting for salt, and remember they blow up, and the liquid will absorb them.
  5. Remember they should reach the creamy point!
  6. Serve them in pan with curved sides topped with the pre-cooked sausage ring.

 

 

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Lasagnetti with Crumbled Sausage, Asparagus and Zucchini Coins

lasagnetti pasta

I always gravitate towards the unique non traditional pasta shapes, when I see a shelf full of them I always have to grab a bag or two. My pantry is stocked with different shapes just waiting to be cooked up, so every now and then I will showcase one here on my blog.

Like these cute little lasagnetti which I recently found, they look like mini one inch square lasagne sheets. As far as what kind of sauce to serve with it, my first idea was to toss them into marinara and then dot the whole thing with fresh ricotta and a little romano, but I wanted something different this time and since fresh asparagus has been popping up all over in my area I used that as my inspiration to make this dish.

The combination of roasted zucchini coins, asparagus, medium spicy Italian sausage and sauteed grape tomatoes turned out to be the perfect flavor combination to grace my lasagnetti. Of course, any sturdy pasta shape would do, but if you’re interested my fellow Chicagoans, I got this pasta at Caputo’s.

If you’re looking for something a little different for your next dinner party I would suggest this dish, not only does it taste great it looks really nice spread out on a platter!

It’s fun to get out of your comfort zone every now and then!

Lasagnetti with Crumbled Sausage, Asparagus and Zucchini Coins
 
Ingredients
  • 3 small yellow squash cut in ¼ inch slice
  • 3 small zucchini cut in ¼ inch slice
  • 1 lb. fresh asparagus cut diagonally
  • 12 or more grape tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 large shallot finely chopped
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
  • ½ cup each of white wine, chicken broth and pasta water
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. of cooked lasagnetti or any sturdy pasta, reserve ½ cup pasta water
  • 1 cup of ricotta
  • fresh basil and grated romano for garnish
Instructions
  1. Roast zucchini coins and asparagus on a baking sheet drizzled in olive oil at 425 until golden brown.
  2. Saute the tomatoes in olive oil in a small skillet.
  3. Brown sausage in a skillet with the chopped shallot and garlic cloves, my sausage is very lean so I add a little olive oil when browning. When sausage is cooked through add in the wine, broth, ¼ cup olive oil and pasta water, this will be the base for your sauce.
  4. Toss everything into a large bowl coating the cooked pasta with the sauce, tossing with grated cheese, fresh snipped basil and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Place on a platter and dot with fresh ricotta and a drizzle more of olive oil if needed.
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