Roasted Sausages with Red Grapes, Polenta, & Gorgonzola

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Guys. I made this recipe for Roasted Sausages with Red Grapes, Polenta, & Gorgonzola and realized a few things about myself.

1. I have a really difficult time photographing sausages. I mean, it’s just not the easiest thing to take a pretty picture of.

2. I have the maturity of a tween. I had a tough time not writing “hard” and “sausage” in the same sentence up there. And, there, I did it anyway. There’s also a bit in the recipe below about pricking the sausages and I just can’t even…I’m so sorry. Now you know, I’m secretly twelve.

Anyway, innuendo and (lack of) maturity aside, this dinner was one of my favorites as of late! I mean, it’s SO EASY. I really love and appreciate that these days. Few dishes, few ingredients, little hands-on time, and tons of flavor. WIN. Also, I’ve been super intrigued/terrified of all the cooked grape dishes I’ve seen around the internets. I’m super picky about my grapes, I like them firm (heh). I like a taught grape, okay? The thing is, when you roast them, there’s no worry about having grapes in their prime. They can be going south and it’s all good. I first delved into the cooked-grape-territory a few weekends ago with this number from Smitten Kitchen. So amazingly good as part of a cheese spread. After I learned how amazing a warm grape could be, I totally bookmarked this recipe from Molly of Dunk and Crumble’s book Sheet Pan Suppers. It’s a cookbook I will certainly be referring to often. It’s such a clever concept and I am totally in love with this recipe. I mean it’s so simple, savory, sweet, spicy, and delicious. Perfect for weeknight dinners, a little different, a little fancy, and great for pretending to be a mature-adult-person who doesn’t crack-up at sausage jokes and stuff.

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Print Recipe

Roasted Sausages with Red Grapes, Polenta, & Gorgonzola

Serves 4

From the book Sheet Pan Suppers

Olive oil cooking spray

1, 18 ounce, tube prepared polenta

1 small red onion cut into 1/4-inch thick half moons

2 cups, stemmed, red seedless grapes

2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

6 links hot Italian sausages (or mild if you prefer)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons crumbled gorgonzola cheese, plus an additional 2 tablespoons for serving

Preheat the oven to 425ºF with one rack about 4 inches from the broiler and the other in the center. Mist a sheet pan with cooking spray, or lightly brush some olive oil over the entire surface (this is what I did).

Remove the polenta from it’s packaging and slice into 1/4-1/2 inch rounds. Place in a single layer on the prepared sheet pan.

Toss the red onion and grapes with the olive oil and salt in a medium bowl. Scatter over the polenta and arrange the sausages evenly around the grapes and onions. Prick each sausage once or twice with a fork. Sprinkle with the fresh thyme leaves.

Bake until the sausages are cooked though and the grapes start to wrinkle, about 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and heat the broiler. Scatter 2 tablespoons of the gorgonzola over the sausages. Broil to melt the cheese and brown the sausages. About 3 minutes.

Serve the sausages over the polenta with the grapes and onions. Sprinkle with the additional gorgonzola to serve, if you like.

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Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad with Cranberries & Feta

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Quinoa and I have a tortured relationship. One that I am adament on mending. I have to admit, it may be my fault. Our introduction wasn’t entirely agreeable. I totally didn’t realize you were supposed to rinse quinoa, so the first few times I tried to force us to like this magical grain, we totally hated it. It tasted weird and soapy and gross. So, I left it alone for 2 solid years before realizing I was doing it all wrong. For shame!

Since, I’ve dabbled in quinoa. Adding it to bean burgers and turkey meatballs, letting it hang in the background, no longer hating it, but continuing to let it underwhelm me. Not giving it a fare shake. Recently, though, I’ve become obsessed with this “autumn couscous salad” from the deli of my favorite grocery store, New Seasons. I decided to remake it at home, but sub out the couscous for quinoa in yet another attempt at making it something we could love. And, hallelujah! I’ve done it!

This salad just gets me. It’s full of texture (my favorite) and perfectly balances sweet, nutty, salty, and tangy. I love the way quinoa retains some texture even after it’s cooked and sort of pops when you chew it. Plus it makes this salad so filling, making for a great lunch on its own.

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Feta

Make 4-6 servings

I like my vinaigrettes pretty tart and tangy, using a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and olive oil. If you like a smoother dressing, go ahead and reduce the vinegar by a tablespoon or so, to taste. The dressing also includes quite a bit of shallot, which makes for a chunky vinaigrette, but totally adds a ton of flavor to the salad without making for an overwhelmingly onion-y dish. There may seem to be a lot of vinaigrette, but the quinoa really soaks up the dressing. If you are worried, add half and see where you’re at before adding the rest to taste.

3 cups sweet potato, diced small (about 2 small sweet potatoes)

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 1/2 cups water

2 cups baby spinach leaves

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup shelled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped sage

1/4 cup finely diced shallot (about 1 medium shallot)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1-2 teaspoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Toss the diced sweet potato with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and about 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Spread the sweet potatoes in an even layer on a sheet pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes, stirring once after about 15 minutes, until tender and some pieces begin to brown. Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa well in a mesh strainer. Add it to a saucepan with the water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the quinoa begins to boil reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed. Let the quinoa stand, uncovered for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

While the sweet potatoes and quinoa cook, mix up the dressing. In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the shallots, with the red wine vinegar, remaining olive oil, mustard, maple syrup, the remaining salt, and pepper. Shake well to combine.

Add the still warm, cooked quinoa to a large mixing bowl and combine with the dressing. Fold in the cooked sweet potatoes, spinach, cranberries, pepitas, feta, and sage. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 days. [/recipe]

Coconut-Lime Rice Salad

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A few weekends ago I was coffee-dating and Anthro-browsing with my real-life/blog-life pal, Megan. We wandered into an olive oil/vinegar shop because Megan mentioned that they had a coconut white balsamic…and, I HAD TO try it. Had to, it happens.

So, I tasted the coconut vinegar, and it was so sweet-tart, coconut-y, and delicious…I had to have some. I’ve been daydreaming ways to showcase this vinegar and I kept coming back to fragrant jasmine rice. This salad comes together quickly and can be served warm, room temperature, or even cold. The vinaigrette is a savory-sweet and tart mixture of the coconut white balsamic, some persian lime olive oil, a little shallot, and sea salt. We shake up the vinaigrette in a jar and gently stir it into the still warm rice–for optimum dressing absorption. Toasty (unsweetened) coconut, nutty sliced almonds, and super-fragrant lime zest are fluffed into the rice.  Every bite has texture and flavor and fragrance. I can’t wait to serve this rice alongside grilled seafood…a late summer evening with a cool glass of something boozy will be a totally optional, yet highly suggested, accompaniments.

Coconut-Lime Rice Salad

Serves 4-6

I know coconut white balsamic and persian lime olive oil aren’t the most readily available pantry staples. You can use any vinegar and olive oil you’d like (I like the idea if rice wine  vinegar and a lighter olive oil), just add a little extra lime zest for good measure. For reference, I purchased the oil and vinegar from HERE (the Birmingham location). The man I talked to was super knowledgeable and had great suggestions. PS, I like my dressing/vinaigrettes to be pretty tart and bracing…so, add more olive oil if you prefer a  more smooth and lush dressing. 

1 cup jasmine rice, uncooked

1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut, toasted

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

2 limes, zested and juiced

1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons coconut white balsamic

3-4 tablespoons persian lime olive oil

big pinch of sea salt

Cook the rice. For a rice cooker–follow manufacturer’s instructions. On the stove-top, pour the rice into a medium saucepan add 1 2/3 cups water (I like a ratio of 1 part rice to just under 2 parts water, thus the 2/3 measurement, but if you have a tried and true method, use that). Bring the pot to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered tightly, for 15-20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Allow rice to rest, covered, for at least 5 minutes. Scrape the rice into a large mixing bowl and fluff gently with a fork. Set aside.

To toast the coconut and almonds, preheat the oven to 350˚F and spread the coconut and almonds on a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast for about 4 minutes, stirring after the first 2 minutes. Watch the coconut and nuts carefully, as they can go from perfectly toasted to burned in a matter of seconds. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, toss with the lime zest and set aside.

In a small jar combine the lime juice (about 1 tablespoon total), minced shallot, coconut (or plain) vinegar, lime (or plain) olive oil, and a big pinch of sea salt. Fasten the lid on the jar and shake vigorously to combine. Pour the vinaigrette over the rice and fold gently with a rice paddle or rubber spatula to combine. Add the coconut/almond/lime zest mixture and fold in gently to combine. Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.