Mediterranean Smoked Sausage, Tomato and Chickpeas


Who knew when I packed my bags to move to Paris to study French cooking I would become a sausage fanatic? Considering that at the time I ate little meat, the thought of embracing all manners of sausages and charcuterie was an unlikely possibility. Yet, following my cooking program and culinary immersion in French cuisine (charcuterie is a French word, after all), a subsequent move to Switzerland (where sausage vies for popularity with chocolate) and meeting my Danish husband (who comes from a land where sausage carts are more prolific than Starbucks) my view of sausages understandably – and happily – shifted.

Now, years later, sausage has worked its way into my cooking repertoire. It’s a staple ingredient in my kitchen and a hands down family favorite. Packed with protein and spice, sausages are a handy and flavorful addition to pastas, soups, stews and casseroles – when we are not gobbling them up straight off the grill. And to think that all it took was a trip to France.

Smoked Sausage, Tomato and Chickpeas

This recipe is perfect for an easy weeknight dinner. The seasoned sausage infuses the dish with smoky spiced flavor, requiring little additional seasoning, and since the sausage is pre-cooked, the entire dish may be prepared in 15 minutes. The ragout is delicious as is or spooned over couscous for a Mediterranean inspired meal.

Start to Finish: 15 minutes
Makes: 6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (14-ounce) package Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage, sliced on the diagonal, ½-inch thick
1 pound grape tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzos), drained
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 cups cooked couscous

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and brown on both sides, turning once, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer with tongs or a slotted spoon to a plate lined with a paper towel.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet and reduce heat to medium. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and garlic, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to collapse, 5 more minutes. Return the sausages to the skillet and add the cilantro. Cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Serve over couscous.

Cooks Tip:
For extra heat, add ½ teaspoon cayenne when adding the chickpeas.

*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Hillshire Farm sponsored it and compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, the opinions and thoughts are my own.

Spaghetti with Sausage and Grape Tomato Ragout

sausage ragout pates
I  know it’s summer, but sometimes a nice meaty pasta dish just hits the spot. I’ve lightened up this ragout by adding fresh grape tomatoes to the sauce. As the sauce simmers, the tomatoes will begin to break down adding garden-fresh brightness to this satisfying dinner.

Spaghetti with Sausage and Tomato Ragout
Serves 4

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound Italian sausage, casings removed, crumbled
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
1 medium red bell pepper, seeds and membranes removed, cut in 1/4-inch dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 cup medium-bodied red wine
1 (15-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, optional

1 pound spaghetti
Grated Parmigiano cheese
Chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and sauté until golden. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Discard all but 1 tablespoon fat in the pan. Add tomatoes,  red pepper, garlic, oregano and chili flakes. Sauté 2 minutes. Add the wine. Bring to a boil and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the plum tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning. If needed, add sugar.
While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain. Serve hot with the sauce spooned over. Garnish with cheese and parsley.

If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Roasted Vegetable Lasagne
Shrimp Puttanesca
Linguine with Cherry Tomatoes and Breadcrumb Gremolata

Skillet Dinners: Spicy Sausage, Mustard Greens and Cauliflower

sausage greens tastefood

~ a farmers’ market bounty in a skillet ~

Last week I came home from the farmers’ market with an armful of mustard. I shop with my eyes and couldn’t resist the bunches of mizuna mustard leaves – frizzy purple, spiky red, scalloped green – not to mention their sunny flowers strung together in tidy bouquets. Since then, they’ve made themselves at home in my fridge, while I’ve reached for pinches and handfuls at each meal, tossing in salads, sprinkling as garnish. Yesterday was our last hurrah. I up-ended the remaining mustard into this quick one-dish skillet dinner, along with my other market acquisitions: spicy Italian sausages, violet-tinged baby cauliflower, orange cherry tomatoes and a few handfuls of curly kale for good measure.

Spicy Sausage, Mustard Greens and Cauliflower in a Skillet
Serves 4

Extra-virgin olive oil, divided
12 ounces Italian sausages, sliced 1/2-inch thick
2 cups cauliflower florets, any color works
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 generous bunches mustard greens and/or kale, tough stems removed
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage in one layer and cook until golden brown on both sides, turning once. With a slotted spoon transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. If the skillet is dry, add 1 more tablespoon oil. Add the cauliflower and a sprinkle of salt; sauté until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the greens, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cumin, paprika and black pepper. Saute until the greens are tender and bright in color, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sausage. Cover partially, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm with couscous or farro.

Sausage, Kale and White Bean Pasta

Sausage Kale Pasta TasteFood~ Sauasage, Cannellini, Kale, Tomato, Parmigiano, Gemelli Pasta ~

It’s always a shock to our family food supply when school is out and the kids are suddenly home for 3 meals a day. Add to that one freshly minted 18 year-old performing landscape construction as a summer day job who actually requires 6 meals a day.

Faced with the prospect of whipping up a satisfying and filling dinner last week when our fridge was beyond bare to begin with (all the good stuff had gone to our annual beach BBQ feast) I had to think creatively and fast.  There was one overlooked packet of sausages that had escaped the BBQ unscathed, so I decided to prepare a sturdy meaty pasta dish, embellished with  the pantry’s cannellini beans and a few lone plum tomatoes rolling around on the kitchen counter. Luckily there was a bunch of curly kale in the fridge, and while tempted to make a salad just for me, I checked myself and dumped the whole lot into the pasta bowl. If this wouldn’t fill ’em up nothing would.

Sausage, Kale and White Bean Pasta
Serves 4

1 small bunch curly kale, tough ribs removed, torn in bite size pieces
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 pound pasta, such as gemelli, fusilli, farfalle

8 ounces Italian sausages, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
3 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese, divided
Handful of Italian parsley, chopped

Place the kale, 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Toss the kale with your hands while rubbing the oil into the leaves. This will help to soften them. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain.

While the pasta is cooking heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown on both sides, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the beans, tomatoes, garlic, chili flakes, and black pepper. Cook, stirring once or twice until heated through, about 2 minutes. Taste for salt and adjust seasoning as needed. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the pasta, kale, half of the cheese and the parsley. Toss to combine. Add more cheese to taste and serve any extra with the pasta.

If you like this, you might enjoy these easy pasta recipes from TasteFood:
Gemelli with Roasted Tomatoes and Arugula
Spaghetti with Broccolini, Breadcrumbs and Chili Flakes
Orecchiette with Bacon and Brussel Sprouts

Broccolini Sausage Pasta

broccoli sausage pasta tastefood

~ Italian Sausage, Broccolini, Plum Tomatoes, Pecorino, Basil ~

This little pot of pasta is a quick and healthy weeknight dinner you can whip up in 30 minutes. It’s a great option when you want something fresh and substantial with minimal effort that relies on the pantry and freezer for ingredients. I had fresh broccolini spears waiting for use in my fridge and dipped into my stash of sausages I keep on hand in my freezer, because, well, one should always have a stash of sausages in the freezer. A can of Italian plum tomatoes and a box of pasta later, voila, we had a meal for 4.

Spicy Sausage, Broccolini and Tomato Pasta
Serves 4

1 pound pasta, such as gemelli, fusilli, penne
Extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound spicy Italian sausage
3/4 pound broccolini, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juice
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup basil leaves, loosely packed, torn in half if large
1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for sprinkling

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl.

While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausages and brown on all sides. Remove from pan and transfer to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, slice in 1/4-inch pieces.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the same skillet and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add broccolini and sauté over medium heat until bright green but still crisp, about 1 minute. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, breaking tomatoes apart with a spoon. Return sausages to the skillet. Stir to combine and cook until thoroughly heat through. Remove from heat and pour over the pasta. Add basil and cheese and toss to combine. Serve immediately garnished with extra cheese.

Broccoli Rabe and Sausage Pizza

Broccoli Rabe Pizza TasteFood

~ Broccoli Rabe, Sausage and Three Cheese Pizza ~

Broccoli Rabe is like kale. If I can get my kids to eat it, then I win. I’m a huge fan of broccoli rabe, also known as rapini. While it resembles a spindly, leafy version of broccoli, rapini is actually a member of the turnip and mustard greens family, which accounts for its peppery and bitter flavor. And, like kale, rapini is a nutritional powerhouse, a rich source of vitamins A, C and K, and folate, calcium and potassium. The key is to get my family to eat it. And I think I’ve figured it out.

The first trick is to blanch broccoli rabe in salted boiling water, which will remove excess bitterness. Then briefly saute the dried stalks in olive oil with garlic, salt and red pepper flakes (everything tastes good with garlic and salt, right?) At that point the rapini is good to go as a simple side dish. But in this case I’ve taken it a step further, scattering it over pizza oozing with 3 cheeses and spiced with crumbled Italian sausage. The combination of salty, cheesy, spicy toppings perfectly balances the peppery rapini. My family gobbled it up. I like to win.

Broccoli Rabe, Sausage and Three Cheese Pizza

Feel free to use your favorite store-bought pizza crust dough. Makes one large rectangular pizza, about 10 x 15-inches

1/2 pound broccoli rabe, washed, ends trimmed
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced, plus 1 garlic clove lightly smashed but still intact
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus extra for sprinkling
3/4 pound Italian sausage, casings removed, crumbled
1 pizza crust dough (recipe below)
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Rosemary sprigs for garnish

Place pizza stone on lowest rack in oven. Heat oven to 475 F (240 C). Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add broccoli rabe and blanch just until bright green, about 30 seconds. Drain immediately and plunge broccoli rabe into a bowl of ice water to cool; drain again. Lay stalks in one layer on a kitchen towel and blot to thoroughly dry. Cut in 2-inch pieces.

Heat one tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Sauté briefly, 30 seconds. Add broccoli rabe and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté until slightly limp, 1 minute. Transfer to a plate. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the same skillet. Add sausage and saute over medium heat until cooked through, breaking up large pieces with a spoon. Transfer with a slotted spoon to another plate lined with a paper towel.

On a large piece of parchment paper, roll out pizza crust to about 10 x 15-inches in size. Lightly brush crust with olive oil. Rub all over with smashed garlic clove. Arrange one layer mozzarella cheese over crusts. Sprinkle with fontina. Scatter sausage and broccoli rape over the pizza and sprinkle with pecorino. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Slide parchment with pizza onto pizza stone in oven. Bake until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly, about 15 minutes. Slice and serve warm with extra crushed chili flakes for sprinkling.

Pizza Dough Recipe

Makes enough for 2 large crusts

2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups cold water
1/4 cup olive oil

Stir yeast and lukewarm water together in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and semolina. Mix well. Let sit until bubbly, about 30 minutes. Combine remaining flour and salt in another bowl. Add to yeast with cold water and olive oil. Mix well to form a dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead with hands until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Or use a mixer with a dough hook, and knead about 5 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat all sides with oil. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. Punch dough down, and let rise another 45 minutes. Divide dough into 2 equal disks (or 4 if you would like small pizzas.) Let rest 30 minutes before shaping.

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Kefta Skewers

Lamb Keftas TasteFood
~ Grilled Moroccan Lamb Keftas, Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, Tsatsiki ~

There is something utterly complete about this meal. Homemade ground lamb keftas, fragrant with Moroccan spices, are grilled until crisp and succulent. Served with a sweet and spicy red pepper puree and cool minty yogurt sauce, these addictive morsels hit all flavor notes. They are a great option for party food, easy to prepare in advance and economical in ingredients. Just be warned that your guests will inhale these skewers before you blink, so you might need to splurge on a double recipe.

Spicy Lamb Kefta Skewers

Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds ground lamb
1 small onion, minced, about 1 cup
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Pre-soaked bamboo skewers
Extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cups whole milk Greek yogurt
1 small English cucumber, seeded, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of Tabasco

Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Pita bread
Fresh mint leaves

Prepare the keftas: Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix to combine, without over-mixing. With a light hand, form a handful of the meat around a skewer into a sausage, about 2-inches long by 1-inch wide. Place on a tray or platter. Repeat with remaining meat. Lightly brush the keftas with olive oil. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Prepare the tsatsiki: Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Keep refrigerated until use.

Grill the keftas over medium heat until cooked through, about 10 minutes, turning once or twice. (Or broil in the oven). Serve warm with tsatsiki, red pepper sauce and pita. Garnish with mint leaves.