Laura Ballance plays bass for indierock mainstay Superchunk and co-founded Merge Records. In addition to being a rocker, a babe, and an all-around deluxe girl, this chick can cook. Here’s one of her old standby recipes you can fix up in a jiffy. Bonus: it’s cheap.
This is a quick and easy way to make some really tasty food without a whole lot of effort. All you really have to do is cut some stuff up and then throw it in the oven. I first remember seeing this done when I was a kid. My parents would take us over to the Quigley’s house and the grown-ups would drink loads of wine (ladies) or beer (men). It seems like there was usually a football game on as well. Mrs. Quigley was Italian, so I would say this is sort of an Italian dish. The quantities of everything are totally adjustable. I can’t really remember how much of everything I put in. Just do what feels right. I like all the vegetables to be in large pieces. It just looks better. Also, please forgive me if I state the obvious.
Nikol’s notes: This dish is a champ for company: prep took less than 5 minutes, and there’s no precision timing. Toss in an extra potato or two & the leftovers make a swell breakfast taco starter. We didn’t try the beets option, but the sweet potatoes already lend a nice balance of sweetness to the savory. For my taste, the beets would be going overboard. Put the sausages in raw. Malin had a hard time accepting that, but it works like a charm. You don’t actually eat the garlic skins; they’re just left on to keep the soft cloves from mushing apart. Squeeze them our of their skins as you eat.
Serves three or four
1 large sweet potato
2 medium white potatoes (Yukon or Idaho will do)
1 red bell pepper
3 medium onions (skinned and quartered)
half a head of garlic
4 links of spicy Italian sausage
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary (plus extra for garnish)
a pinch or two of red pepper flakes
fresh ground black pepper
salt to taste
3 leeks (optional)
beets (but they can make the whole mess kind of sweet)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and chop your vegetables into fairly large pieces and start throwing them into a baking dish with a lid (like one of those glass Pyrex ones). I leave the skins on my potatoes because they taste good and are good for you. Also, as you chop everything up keep in mind how quickly different things cook. Sweet potatoes cook faster than white potatoes so you want to cut your sweet potato into larger chunks so that they will be ready at about the same time as the other potatoes.
Take the core out of the pepper, chop into large bits. Like, maybe six or eight lengthwise pieces. They cook even faster than a sweet potato. Peel and quarter your onions. Separate the cloves of garlic and take off any excess skin…but leave a layer of skin on there. It’s good that way.
Put your sausages, rosemary, pepper flakes, salt and pepper in the dish and pour on some olive oil. Stir everything around to make sure everything gets some olive oil on it and cover. Place in oven. Total cooking time is generally about an hour. Take out every twenty minutes or so and stir the items around a little. They need to be rearranged to make sure everything is cooking evenly.
Wash your leeks very well. They tend to be sandy. Try slicing them lengthwise, but not all the way down to the base to get all the sand out from between the leaves. Chop off the top tough part and discard. Then slice them up.
After your dish has been in the oven for forty minutes take off the cover and leave it off. Also, add those leeks and mix them in with the other veggies. Cook for about twenty more minutes (test your potatoes for doneness) and voilÃ ! Serve with a nice salad and your favorite red wine, which you have hopefully started drinking already.
This is how the dish will look before the final browning: the sausage will be cooked through and the potatoes will be tender (poke them with a fork–they won’t resist when they’re ready). After you mix in the leeks, keep the lid off and make sure the sausage is on top so it will get nicely browned.
Leaving the pot uncovered in the final stages results in nicely browned sausage and vegetables
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