Friday, August 8, 2014

Sausage and Vegetable Stew

I recently visited Chicago to take in a baseball game at the oldest major league ballpark: Wrigley Field. The food there is very old-school. Unlike my local ballpark Coors Field, the fare is as traditional! Classic Chicago hot dogs and one of my favorites, sausage and peppers and onions on a roll. This inspired me to create this stew. There's a little bit of sausage but the bulk of it is veggies from my garden - some eggplant, zucchini, and Italian peppers. You can serve this on a hoagie roll or Italian bread. Or you can serve it over rice, like my dinner in the photo. We also ate it stuffed into a pita, though that's a pretty messy container!

You can choose the type of sausage you like best: spicy or mild, chicken or pork. You want a flavorful Italian sausage because the flavors in the sausage provide a lot of flavor in the stew.

Sausage and Vegetable Stew
(serves 6)

1 large sweet onion, sliced
2 Italian sweet peppers, cored and sliced crosswise
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil + ½ Tablespoon
¾ pound Italian sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 14-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 pound zucchini, cut into ½" dice
½ pound eggplant, peeled and cut into ½" dice
salt and pepper
healthy pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
about 20 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
¼ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Heat up a large skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add the 2 Tablespoons oil and the onions. Sprinkle with about ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook until golden and very soft, about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes of cooking, lower heat to medium-low to keep the onions from burning. Stir occasionally. This step takes time but this is how you get delicious onions. Add the peppers and garlic. Stir to mix and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the onion mixture to a bowl and set aside.

Return the skillet to the stove and turn up the heat to medium-high. Add the ½ Tablespoon oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the sausage. Brown the sausage. Add the diced and crushed tomatoes, scrapping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan (this is the good stuff!). Add the zucchini, eggplant, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and crushed red pepper, if you want a spicy sauce. Stir to mix and cover. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove the cover, add the cheese, and cook for another 5 minutes to thicken the sauce a bit. Stir in ½ the chopped basil. Taste and add more salt and black pepper, if needed. To serve, mound onto a roll, and garnish with onions and remaining chopped basil.

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