We don’t often have sausages, but they are definitely on the list of items to have at least once during winter. Besides, this week’s veggie box was full of Chef Gerald’s favourites of the moment: red and green capsicums, pumpkin, sweet potato and zucchini, which called for a tasty stew. If you’re a baby parrot, this means guaranteed hours of fun in the kitchen, especially with that most prized delicacy – capsicum cores!!! Humans, of course, don’t know what they’re missing by not eating those, but hey, I’m not complaining – there’s more left for me to enjoy! The only question is: which one do I sample first?
So, with all these lovely capsicums to use up, we decided to have an easier version of stew, i.e. one that doesn’t need to be simmered for hours, as that would overcook the capsicums. We have found that cooking can definitely enhance the flavour of capsicums but, as usual, you have to be careful not to overdo it. The usual meat choices for stew were out of the question in this case, due to the long cooking time required, which left sausages as the obvious candidate. It’s vital that you use some high quality, preferably organic sausages for this (another good reason to be on friendly terms with your local butcher). Any type of beef, lamb or pork sausages should work really well in this dish, so feel free to experiment with your favourite type. Add to them plenty of tomatoes and tomato puree as the base, chickpeas and lots of herbs, and you’ve got a flavoursome dinner that’s quick and easy to make and will fill your house with a wonderful aroma.
You could serve this with mash or bread, but it’s also a good starting point for experimenting with some other whole grains. It’s also best to incorporate grains in a meal that contains legumes (chickpeas, in our case), as the two will complement each other very nicely in flavour, texture and nutritional value as well.
On this occasion, we had ours with steamed bulgur, which is one of our favourite grains at the moment. This is the same grain used in tabouleh, where it’s only soaked in water for an hour, then drained and incorporated in the salad. Thanks to our pressure cooking books though, we have found out that it can also be pressure cooked for about 8 minutes, at a ratio of 1 part bulgur to 3 parts water. We wouldn’t have this in summer, but on a cold winter’s night you’ll get some lovely comfort food out of this, a bit like a softer and creamier version of couscous.
This is what you’ll need
3 tbsp olive oil
4 sausages of your choice, cut into 3 cm pieces
2 medium sized onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 green capsicums, cored and cut into strips
1 red capsicum (you could use just one type of capsicum, but mixing the colours will add to the colour appeal of the dish), cored and cut into strips
300g cooked chickpeas
150g baby spinach
5 – 6 medium sized ripe tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped (use 1 x 400g tin instead if tomatoes are not in season)
500ml tomato puree
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
Heat the olive oil in a pan, then add the sausage pieces and cook for about 2 – 3 minutes, until browned. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for a further 5 – 7 minutes, until the onion has softened.
Add all other ingredients except for baby spinach, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes, until the sausages and capsicums are cooked.
Add the baby spinach and fold into the hot stew. Remove from heat, season to taste with salt (if required) and pepper and serve. Serves 4