We all have our old standbys dishes. The ones that we go back to because they are either full of our favorite flavors, a comfort meal, or sometimes they remind us of our childhood. These are the meals we tend to have on weekly or monthly rotation. I (as well as my family) love our old standbys, but sometimes, I just need to change things up.
I am that person that craves something, makes it, eats it and then I am good for another month...lol! So, the creative part of me has some trouble making the same dishes over and over again, but sometimes I still crave the flavors of those dishes and I try to bring some new life to the ol' standby. It could be the smallest alteration, like a changed or added ingredient... but it quite literally makes the old, new. I am all for a refreshing change.
All this being said, I thought I would write a quick blog on two different ways to change up a fan favorite....Sausage and Peppers! Street fair Sausage and Peppers like the ones at the San Gennaro Feast or Food Truck festival versions are what we are most accustomed to. Green bell or Cubanelle peppers deeply sautéed in oil with thick grilled sausage links. There ain't nothing wrong with a juicy (and a bit greasy) sausage and pepper sandwich, but these two other versions I have for you are just as delicious.
First up! A dish I have cooked many times for a family meal but can be used equally as a delicious and easy dinner to entertain company. Sweet Italian Sausage with Baby Bell Peppers and Wilted Spinach. The colors are beautiful and the flavor is mouth-watering! I've changed up the peppers in this dish. Instead of using heavy green bell peppers or cubanelle peppers, I use some sweet mini peppers. Their subtle sweetness blends well with the peppery spice of the sausage. I also added in a layer of flavor with some dry white wine and chicken stock (my favorite is Kitchen Basics). The wilted baby spinach adds another pop of color while also bumping up the veggie nutrition. Can't go wrong with that! Your family and your company will definitely love this one.
1.5 lbs sweet italian sausage
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 bag mini sweet bell peppers,
tops removes, sliced in half
1/3 cup dry white wine
10 oz baby spinach
1 cup chicken stock
kosher salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
-Start off with a heavy-bottomed, high-sided skillet that can go into the oven. Add in your sausage links and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes, rotating them a couple of times while baking. Remove the sausages from the pan and let rest while you prepare the remaining ingredients for the dish.
- Heat olive oil on medium-high heat and add in the garlic cloves, sliced onion, and mini sweet bell peppers. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Sauté until peppers and onions are softened, about 8 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with white wine and let simmer for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol. Add in the baby spinach and toss around to just wilt the leaves.
- Add the sausage links back into the pan and pour in 1 cup of chicken stock. Simmer for 15 minutes and serve with your favorite loaf of bread.
Sausage Stuffed Bell Peppers are a "go-to" weeknight meal that might be showing up your monthly rotation this coming school year. This dish is a breeze to put together (all in one pan I might add...#winning) and can be made ahead of time! You can make it the morning-of, or prep this dish on Sunday for a busy night during the week. It has all the delicious flavor of sausage and peppers combined with the heartiness of stuffed peppers. The sweetness from the petite diced tomatoes, the saltiness of the grated pecorino cheese and seasoned breadcrumbs give this dish layers of unexpected flavor. Plus, you just can't go wrong with fresh melted mozzarella. If you don't have fresh on hand, shredded will do the trick.
4 large red, yellow and/or orange
1 1/2 lbs pork sausage, casings
1 large yellow onion, finely
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp fresh basil
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 tbsp seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
2 15 oz can of petite diced
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced and
kosher salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a medium bowl mix together the cans of petite diced tomatoes and can of tomato sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and set aside.
- Cut the bell peppers in half and remove all the ribs and seeds. Lay flat in a large baking dish cut side up.
- In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add in the sausage and break up with a flat sided wooden spoon. Continue to break up and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
- Once the sausage is browned, add in the onions, garlic. Cook until the onions and peppers have softened, about 5 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pan and let the wine get absorbed into all the ingredients. Add in the petite diced tomatoes and their juices and stir to combine. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add in the fresh parsley and basil and sprinkle in the grated pecorino and dried breadcrumbs and gently fold into the mixture.
- Turn the heat off and take a large serving spoon and evenly stuff the halved peppers. Cover and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and top with the fresh mozzarella slices and place back in the oven, uncovered, for about 5-7 minutes until all the cheese in melted.
This recipe feeds a family of 4. One full pepper (2 halves) per person. Sometimes when I am making this dish I will add a side of Penne Aglio e Olio as a starch or filler. This also goes great with my Spinach and Red Onion Salad too!
There are so many ways to switch things up and keep your dinner rotation interesting and fun. I hope these two dishes give you some inspiration to get in the kitchen and experiment with your favorite family meals.