Roasted Veggie, Sausage, and Meatball Cassoulet

Cassoulet:  A rich, slow-cooked casserole originating in the south of France.  Ahhh, what could be better on a cool weeknight than a one-dish meal?

Except one that started out as this…

And this…

And finally this?

Sometimes I just can’t make up my mind! :)

Roasted Veggie, Sausage, and Meatball Cassoulet

1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets

1 head of broccoli, broken into florets

1 red bell pepper, seeded & cut into chunks

2 to 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Italian Meatballs (use your basic meatball recipe; add Italian seasoning, oregano, & lotsa garlic)

2 Tbsp. butter, divided

8 oz. whole mushrooms, quartered

8 oz. Italian sausage (in the casing), cut on the diagonal (I used “hot” sausage, my preference)

2 Tbsp. butter, divided

1/2 c. white wine

1/2 c. chicken stock

1 bay leaf

1 Tbsp. flour

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Place vegetables in a large bowl.  (Reserve broccoli & cauliflower stems for soup — blatant hint re: forthcoming post.)

Drizzle veggies with 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper; toss to coat.

Transfer to a large baking sheet; leave about 1/4 of the sheet free for the meatballs.

Line the “open space” of the baking sheet with foil.  Prepare Italian Meatballs.

Place meatballs on foil lined baking sheet.  Bake veggies and meatballs for 20 to 25 minutes; remove from oven.

Carefully remove meatballs (foil and all); set aside.

Spread vegetables out over entire baking sheet (give ’em a stir while you’re at it); return to oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until “roasted” looking.  Remove from oven; set aside.  (Turn off oven.)

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet or sauté pan over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and sauté until golden; remove and set aside.

In the same skillet, add remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Increase heat to medium high.  Add Italian sausage; brown until thoroughly cooked.

Deglaze the skillet with white wine.  Add chicken stock, mushrooms, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a gentle simmer.

Have a glass of wine and think about what it is you’re trying to make.

Next…

Get out a large Dutch oven or French oven (which I should have used in the first place) and melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in it.

Add flour to make a roux.

Pour in broth/wine liquid from skillet; whisk until thickened.  (Add more chicken stock if sauce is too thick.)

Stir in roasted veggies, meatballs, sausage, and mushrooms.

Remove bay leaf.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Place casserole in oven.  Heat for 15 to 20 minutes (use the residual heat from roasting the veggies — no need to turn the oven back on.)

Sweet talk hubby as to why dinner is taking so long.

Fix your hair, put on some fresh lipstick, open the oven door and proclaim, “The Cassoulet is ready!”

Serve promptly.

Enjoying messin’ around in my kitchen,

~ Kim

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Comfort Food II

Sometimes life throws you curve balls and after all of the scrambling around is done, the only thing you can do is sit down with a plate of comfort food and savor every bite. (Or at least that’s what I do!)

After some recent family health concerns (serious enough to make an unplanned trip to Minnesota), I was left with a feeling of wanting to connect with the familiar once I got back to Oklahoma. Since I grew up in the land of yah sure, you betcha, eh? :), it only seemed right to tap into my “hotdish” heritage.

Alternatively known as a casserole, covered dish, or the perfunctory “dish to pass,” hotdish is a comforting food indeed. Nary a potluck dinner or church supper goes by without someone exclaiming, “I MUST have your recipe!” (Some folks even come armed with recipe cards!) In a way, blogging is a bit like that — exchanging recipes “electronically” — and maybe that’s why I love it so. It’s comforting to share good food!

No matter what you call “hotdish” there are three requirements. It must be 1) hearty; 2) flavorful; and 3) big enough to feed a small army. (That’s where the sharing part comes in.)

Considering my repertoire of church cookbooks and recipes I’ve been blessed to receive, I could keep you supplied in hotdish for many years to come, but I decided to concoct one of my own. Let’s see… hmmmm… what are my favorite things?

Italian sausage. Sauteed mushrooms. Roasted red peppers. Olives (lots of ’em.) Mozzarella “pearls.” Onions, green and black. Pasta with some “tooth” to it.

Am I forgetting anything? Oh yeah… the link to my first Comfort Food post.  :)

Melded together with a tomato sauce of your choosing and a liberal dose of Mozzarella on top, you’ve pretty much got it covered… literally!

“My Favorite Things” Hotdish

7 to 8 oz. of your favorite pasta — farfelle, shells, rigatoni, etc. (I used penne rigate, which is described as having a sharp, diagonal cut on the end, similar to a quill pen) :)

1 Tbsp. sea salt, or to taste

1 lb. Italian sausage, hot or mild (I used Lovera’s Hot Italian Sausage from Krebs, Oklahoma)

Butter/olive oil/bacon grease (or a combination thereof…)

8 oz. whole mushrooms, quartered

1 sweet yellow onion, diced

4 to 5 green onions (including tops), sliced

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

2 roasted red peppers (I used Mazzetta’s Roasted Bell Peppers, a gift from Mom, xo), drained & diced

1/2 jar Mazzetta Napa Valley Bistro Blend Olives, drained

8 oz. Mozzarella cheese “pearls” (or cubed Mozzarella cheese)

1 jar of spaghetti sauce (I used Paul Newman’s “Sockarooni” Sauce)

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Grated Mozzarella cheese for the top — as much or as little as you desire

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Bring water to boil in a large kettle. Add salt and pasta; cook until al dente. Drain, but do not rinse.

Meanwhile, remove casings from sausage. Heat butter/olive oil/bacon grease (whatever combo tickles ya) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and stir occasionally to break into “bite-sized” chunks, until browned and cooked through. Remove sausage to paper-towel-lined plate; reserve drippings in skillet.

Add the mushrooms and sweet yellow onions to skillet; saute over medium-high heat until golden. Add green onions, garlic, and red peppers; heat through, taking care not to fricassee the garlic. (!!!) Mix in drained olives, sausage, and pasta.

In the same skillet (or a large casserole dish or Dutch oven), combine the above with Sockarooni Sauce (or your own) and Mozzarella pearls or cubes; stir to coat. Mix in the Parmesan cheese ’til blended.

Put everything in an oven-worthy vessel (if you haven’t already); cover and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove cover. Sprinkle the hotdish/casserole/whatever with grated Mozzarella cheese; heat until melted, about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how “browned” you like it. Serve with warm bread and a salad.

Enjoying the comfort of sharing,

~ Kim

What’s your favorite “hotdish?”

Pizza Pie, Oh My! (and other Glorious Galettes)

(First, please pardon the blinding glare in the subsequent photos…)  Now then, let’s strike an impertinent little pose, shall we?  One that beckons hither and yon and says, “Come ‘n get me!” — in a nice way, of course.

Or, in Okie terms… pull up a chair and dig in!

Quick aside… My original plan was to make a traditional Galette des Rois with almond paste filling, but the farthest I got was blanching the almonds.  Have you ever tried to peel a blanched almond?

I enlisted The Man Of Few Words to help (ain’t he sweet?) and we sat on opposite sides of the counter with a pile between us.  It soon became a game of Tiddlywinks.  (Remember those?)  One or the other of us would accidentally “shoot” an almond airborne and I’ve never giggled so much over a mundane task.  Laughter truly is the best medicine!

But, I finally abandoned my galette-making plan for another day — I also went with a savory version.  (At that point in my “cold recovery,” I needed flavor, and lots of it.)  For a marvelous “how-to” on the traditional galette, click here.  (Thank you, Becoming Madame!)  And, for a lovely fruit and cheese variation with pears, pecans, and Gorgonzola, click here.  (Thank you, basilmomma!)

Okay, here’s my take…

Pizza Pie, Oh My!

Preheat oven to 400° F.

For the crust:

1 prepared pie crust (everybody has their favorite — use whatever works for you)

Extra virgin olive oil

For the sauce:

1/2 to 1 whole head of garlic, roasted*

1 tsp. Kosher salt

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

2 Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. olive oil (or butter… or both)

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

* Obviously, it’s easier to roast a whole head of garlic than a half…  Cut off the top, drizzle a little olive oil over it, wrap it in foil, and roast it in a 400° oven for 15 to 20 minutes until it’s soft; set aside to cool.  Use as much as your tastebuds can handle.  (Reserve the rest for later and leave your oven on.)

For the filling:

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed

1 med. sweet onion, chopped

1 roasted red pepper, chopped (I used the “jarred” kind — yes, I resort to convenience now and then…)

4 to 6 oz. Italian blend shredded cheese (yes, fresh is better, but see above)

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (this, I will not budge on)

To prepare crust:  Roll as thinly as possible and place on a pizza pan or stone.  Brush lightly with olive oil to approximately 2″ from edges; set aside.

To prepare sauce:  Squeeze desired amount of roasted garlic onto a cutting board.  Sprinkle with salt.  Mash together with a fork to form a paste.  In a small saucepan, combine tomato paste, water, olive oil (or butter… or both) and garlic paste.  Season to taste with pepper.  (This is a very basic sauce, so as not to compete with the toppings.)  Cook over low heat until warmed; set aside.

To prepare filling:  Brown the sausage in olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Break it into fairly good-sized chunks as it cooks.  Remove sausage to a paper-towel-lined plate.  Do not drain skillet.

Add onion to drippings; saute until translucent.  Add roasted red pepper; saute briefly.  Remove with a slotted spoon to aforementioned paper-towel-lined plate.  (It’s okay if it gets cozy with the sausage; it will eventually anyway.)

Meanwhile, spread a thin layer of sauce over the crust to within 2″ of edges.  (Is there more than one edge when it’s a circle?  Never mind.)  Sprinkle grated Parmesan over the sauce, followed by half the Italian blend cheese.

Next, scatter the sausage, onions, and peppers about at random.  (Preferrably over the sauce and crust…)  Top with remaining shredded cheese.

Now then:  Carefully (and artfully) fold crust edges over filling, leaving the middle exposed.  (The pizza, not yours…)  Crimp loosely to form a “galette.”  If desired, (which I did, but forgot), lightly sprinkle the crust with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  (Hint:  Start with the middle rack in your oven.  If needed, move pan to a higher rack to sufficiently the brown the “top” crust without fricaseeing the bottom.)

Before serving, grate additional Parmesan cheese over the top.  Pizza Pie?  Oh My!

Enjoying galette gloriousness,

~ Kim