This dish is a perfect example of easy Italian comfort food. It is a quick to assemble recipe for busy families and has everything in one dish to complete the meal. In Umbria, pork is the meat of choice, and can be found in every shape and form from cured meats such as salami locale to tender roasted pork shanks, and in fact the region is recognized worldwide for its superior pork products.
This sausage bake simply entails combining fresh fennel, potatoes, onions, garlic, and red peppers, then tossing them with olive oil and seasonings. You then arrange these vegetables into a pan large enough to accommodate them with just a little room for them to spread out so they brown nicely, and place your sausages on top. As the sausages cook you pierce them with a fork to allow the pork juices to mingle with the vegetables, which really brings the flavors together. I often change the ingredients around depending on what I have on hand or what I am craving at the time, and I may or may not include the potatoes.
If you like things spicy as I do, you can use spicy Italian sausages as well as adding a chopped hot pepper or two into the mix, but you could certainly use mild sausages and skip the addition of the chopped hot pepper if you prefer. You can also vary this dish by adding some chopped cherry tomatoes, or try other vegetables such as mushrooms, zucchini or eggplant, but they all need to require the same cooking time for this dish to work.
Deborah Mele 2013
- 4 Medium Potatoes (I Prefer Yukon Gold Variety), Peeled And Cut Into 2-inch Pieces
- 2 Fresh Fennel Bulbs, Top And Core Removed And Cut Into 2-inch Pieces
- 2 Medium Onions, Peeled And Cut Into Thick Wedges
- 2 Red Sweet Peppers, Core And Seeds Removed And Cut Into 2-inch Pieces
- 4 To 5 Garlic Cloves, Peeled And Squashed With Side Of Your Knife
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 - 2 Hot Red Chili Peppers Finely Chopped (Optional)
- Sea Salt And Cracked Black Pepper To Taste
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
- Zest From 2 Lemons
- 8 Italian Sausage Links, Spicy Or Mild (Homemade Or Top Quality Butcher Variety Is Nest)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Mix together all of the ingredients apart from the sausages in an oven-proof large casserole dish and toss well to coat the vegetables with the oil and seasonings.
- Place the sausages on top and place in the oven.
- After 20 minutes, pierce the sausages with a fork and turn over.
- Gently move the vegetables around to ensure they both cook and brown evenly.
- Continue to cook until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender when pierced with a fork, and the sausages are browned, about another 25 minutes or so.
- To serve, scoop a hearty helping of the vegetables onto each plate, and top with the sausages cut in half. Serve immediately.