I love it when the vegetables in my CSA share automatically suggest a meal idea. The combination is so classic and it’s something I haven’t tried making before so it’s impossible to resist what the vegetables are telling me should be done. Perhaps, since I’m still waiting for bar exam results, I should emphasize that I’m speaking figuratively and don’t actually believe that vegetables talk to me…
Anyway, in this share, we received green peppers, long thin spicy yellow peppers, and garlic. I immediately thought of a sausage and pepper sandwich, those hearty, tasty bundles of spicy love that many may associate with Italian street fairs, but for me, makes me think of this hometown restaurant chain.
We also got a fennel bulb in this share, one of my favorite vegetables, odd given that I can’t stand licorice. But I just love how that mellow anise flavor accents other rich flavors. I don’t think it’s normally added to sausage and pepper sandwiches but sausage and fennel is such a natural pairing, so I thought that adding some sauteed fennel to my sandwich might be my little spin on a traditional combo.
So the only things I had to purchase to supplement this CSA-inspired meal was a red bell pepper (for extra color), a large white onion, and some hot Italian chicken sausages. I cooked thin strips of the peppers, onion, and fennel but tried not to overcook them so they’d retain a slight crunch. I added a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste to thicken the vegetable juices into a light sauce. The sausages were cooked in another pan, split in half lengthwise and added to the cooked vegetables so that all the flavors could meld together. The sandwich was so delicious what with the happy mix of sweet and spicy flavors and since this really loaded a sandwich roll, it was hearty and satisfying too. The fennel hit the right note– adding some more sweetness to the peppers but enhancing the heat by drawing out the dried fennel in the sausage. The only way this could have been better would be if I could have found better sandwich rolls than the rather limp in flavor, white French rolls. Imagine what a good, crusty roll would have added to this sandwich!
- olive oil
- 1 large green bell pepper, julienned
- 1 large red bell pepper, julienned
- 3 medium banana peppers, julienned
- 1 small fennel bulb, julienned
- 1 large onion, cut in half then sliced into thin half moons
- 3 small garlic cloves, minced
- 1 package hot Italian chicken sausages
- 3 tbsp double concentrated tomato paste
- 1/2 tbsp oregano
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp dried basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- sandwich rolls
In a medium skillet, add 2 tsp of olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Set the sausages in the pan and add enough water to rise half-way up the sausages. Place over medium high heat, covered, until the water comes to a boil. Uncover the skillet and continue to cook until the water evaporates, turning the sausages every now and then. (This ensures the insides are cooked thoroughly before you brown them after the water evaporates.) Once the water evaporates, pierce each sausage several times with the tines of a fork to release some of the juices, and continue to cook over medium heat, browning the sausages on all sides.
In the meantime, heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and fennel and cook until soft. Add the peppers, garlic, and spices and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes until the peppers soften. Add the tomato paste and stir around the vegetables to coat them. Continue to cook for another couple of minutes. Split the cooked sausages in half, lengthwise, and nestle them among your vegetable mixture. Cook for another 5-7 minutes. Split your sandwich rolls and stuff each roll with two sausage halves, topped with a good helping of the vegetable mix.
CSA Count: 4
Green bell pepper, banana peppers, garlic, fennel bulb