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Value Guru and the Sausage Solution

By Susannah Simone, April 1, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Susannah Simone
SausageI am more than happy eating vegetarian meals about 80% of the time without even thinking about the fact that they're vegetarian. But I do like meaty texture and flavor in a meal more often than I can afford a steak. And, it usually doesn't take much, so steak is not always the answer anyway. The solution is often sausage and I never let my freezer go without it. If it's on sale, I stock up. If it's not, I buy it anyway because it is such a deal. You get so much flavor and satisfaction for your money! First, for those of you who are a little scared of sausage because you don't know what's in there, I worked in our stores as a shift manager for many years so I can personally vouch for the cleanliness of the equipment in the meat cutting room, which is where our butchers grind and pack the in-house-made sausages. In fact, I wasn't allowed to let the butchers go home for the night until I'd looked around to make sure everything was shipshape. And, to be clear, there were no mystery meat packages arriving at the receiving dock, either. They make the sausage with the same quality meat you see at the full-serve counter. Grilled sausage on a bun-or wrapped in a slice of sandwich bread with a generous trail of mustard-is undeniably awesome, but if you're really watching your wallet, you gotta break it up and stretch it. You can either cook it and then slice it into little rounds or you can squeeze it out of the casing before cooking it. Either way, you need less than one quarter-pound link per person. To keep things interesting, I try different varieties and often go for turkey or lamb sausage instead of pork. SausageThe "cook it and then slice it" method is great for pasta dishes. My favorite is "surf & turf pasta salad" because it also has a few shrimp (along with halved cherry tomatoes, cucumber, scallions and crumbled feta cheese). Sausage slices make any pot of beans more than any pot of beans, and any marinara more than any marinara. For cocktail hour or "smorgasbord" (aka "clean out the fridge") night, I cut slices and use toothpicks to dip into BBQ sauce or mustard. SausageThe "squeeze it and brown it" method works for pizza, too, and a rustic "sauce" for frozen cheese ravioli. Brown the sausage, turn off the heat and stir in chopped tomato, minced garlic, red pepper flakes and chopped fresh herbs-basil, sage, parsley, chives or any combination. Deglaze the pan with a splash of wine or stock or pasta-cooking water. Toss into cooked ravioli. What is the most bestest sausage stretcher that I love the mostest? I squeeze lamb sausage from the casing and brown it. Next I add either red or green lentils (depending on how patient I am; red lentils cook in just about 15 minutes), lots of dried dill weed and veggie stock, chicken stock or water. Turn down the heat, cover and cook until the lentils are falling apart or complete mush-whichever I'm in the mood for-and then taste it and season with salt or tamari and brighten up the flavor with some acid-vinegar or lemon juice. Meanwhile, make rice and a cucumber yogurt salad, combining seeded diced cucumber, maybe some quartered cherry tomatoes, garlic, yogurt and feta cheese and/or tahini. Serve the lentil/sausage mixture over the rice with the salad on the same plate so you can get a little salad with each bite of rice and lentils. If you like spicy, Indian pickle is my choice for a paired condiment, but hot sauce or sriracha will do. I'm so pleased the latter is now available without artificial preservatives! Okay, now that I've finished with my "sausage, how do I love thee, let me count the ways," let's hear about how you take advantage of this super budget solution. I'm always looking for more sausage ideas.
Category: Value - Whole Deal




Sandy says ...
We make lentil soup with kielbasa that is truly amazing. Kielbasa is polish sausage so I think it fits here! You just need your basic onion, carrot, and celery combination, a pound of lentils (preferrably green) and water or stock (veggie or chicken), and of course the kielbasa. It feeds a family and can feed a larger group if you add salad and/or bread. Filling and delicious. It freezes well for another day if you don't scarf it down in one night!
04/02/2009 7:49:20 AM CDT
Sandy says ...
Another delicious option that was not mentioned above is to use the Field Roast vegetarian sausages. We love these! All the ingredients are listed so now worries about the quality of meat or mystery of where the meat came from. They pack a powerful punch since they come in three great flavors; all available at Whole Foods. The apple/sage is the closest in flavor to a meat sausage, but the Italian and Mexican styles are spicier and all are great wrapped and baked in puff pastry with mustard or the classic hot dog buns or in the recipe above.
04/02/2009 9:37:50 AM CDT
Josh says ...
My fave is the garlic, rosemary, and mint lamb sausages. I like to grill them along with a red, yellow, and orange bell pepper. I then serve that with some grilled flat bread and maybe a yogurt mint suace...delicious!
04/02/2009 2:49:25 PM CDT
Sallie says ...
I tend toward chicken sausage for most things. There's a great lemon and black bean soup that really pops by adding a couple of garlic chicken sausages cut into bite size pieces. The recipe makes enough for 6-8 people so it is a real vaulue too.
04/08/2009 11:31:27 AM CDT
jerri says ...
I actually just put a post on my blog where i used soysausage in my pasta dish and real sausage in my husband's. (my blog www.cooking4carnivores.com is all about how we manage to eat dinner together every night). i used penne, green peppers, and a hearty tomato sauce. so yummy! there are pics and a recipe on my site so check it out if you are interested...
04/08/2009 3:48:27 PM CDT
merloutre77 says ...
I love the chicken and apple! I use it to make my favorite Saturday dish, a little something my family calls "fancy beanie weenies." I soak navy beans overnight (whole foods bulk of course) and cook them all day until they are tender. I then cut up the sausage into bite sized chunks and arrange them in a 13 by 9 baking dish and cook them in the oven to give them a bit of a brown. Then I pour the beans over top of the sausage and enough bean water to cover the beans and to keep them from drying. I also add a good amount of ketchup (or tomato paste,) brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt and pepper. Sometimes I add some BBQ sauce, onions, or cooked apples for different flavors. I let them cook down and add more broth as needed. Serve with cornbread (add 1/2c of cheddar and 1/2c of canned corn to a box of cornmeal mix along with the egg and milk) and you have one awesome meal.
04/09/2009 1:56:22 PM CDT
Angie says ...
I would love to find some chorizo-flavored sausage that is made with lean meat or vegetarian alternatives. I make a chicken and chorizo stew from a Rachael Ray recipe that I just love to eat all winter but I would love feel better about the sausage that is lending so much flavor to the dish.
04/29/2009 5:22:11 PM CDT
a f r says ...
Angie, how about Soyrizo?
05/24/2009 5:56:16 PM CDT
aaron philibert says ...
i learned to eat lentils and sausage a long time ago. a more complete single dish i can't think of (a little wine and a nice piece of an artisanal bread do compliment the dish.) thank you for stirring the memories around a bit. i think i'll get a nice chicken sausage and a cupful of lentils for my evening meal.
06/04/2009 11:58:11 AM CDT
abby says ...
hello, where can you buy turkey or chicken sausage? I am looking for sausage made without any pork products. thanks!
10/14/2009 3:23:42 PM CDT