Monday, August 10, 2009
Hooray!!! It's raining! You can always tell a Pacific Northwest native--we're happy when it finally cools down and rains...that's what we expect from this part of the world, and it's down-right comforting.
I love to open the kitchen window, light a few candles on the sill, listen to the rain, and get stuck into cooking. A glass of wine, candlelight, raindrops, what else do you need for a romantic evening? Sausage and peppers? Sure, why not.
I brought home some beautiful Eastern Washington peppers from the farmers' market last Friday, which were perfect for this meal. I also used some frozen basil. You may already know this, but it was news to me that you can freeze fresh basil directly from the garden. Just harvest it, make sure there is no moisture or water droplets on it, put it in a bag, and freeze.
Here's some fresh basil after being frozen for 2 days:
I was skeptical; I thought it would turn black as I chopped it, but it didn't:
The key is to use it immediately after taking it out of the freezer. After chopping, I tossed it in as a finishing touch for the vegan sausage and peppers:
Ingredients (Serves 4 over rice or other grain/pasta of your choice)
1 1/2 - 2 lbs peppers of your choice, thickly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 large cloves garlic, sliced ( or more to taste)
1 to 2 tablespoons oregano ( to taste)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes ( to taste)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
5 to 6 cups canned or fresh blanched tomatoes (~ 40 - 50 oz)
4 to 6 good-sized Italian-style vegan sausages ( I didn't have any homemade on hand, so I used Field Roast Italian Style.)
handful of fresh (or frozen) basil
salt and pepper to taste
In large pan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat, add pepper slices and allow to cook slowly, tossing occasionally; 20 - 30 minutes.
When the peppers are soft and beginning to brown, add in the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and fennel.
Continue to saute for 3 - 4 minutes; when the garlic is beginning to soften, add in tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste, and allow to simmer gently for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and if necessary, adding water to maintain desired consistency.
Meanwhile, drizzle some olive oil in a skillet and brown the vegan sausages.
About 10 minutes before serving, add browned sausage to the peppers and tomatoes, and toss in a handful of fresh basil.
Serve over rice or other grain of choice. I served it with leftover rice ( 50% white, 50% brown) and a tomato and baby arugula salad dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar reduction:
If I bought good balsamic vinegar, I wouldn't bother with a reduction. But, I buy cheap stuff and just reduce it over low heat until it gets sweet and syrupy.
The rain also means that I don't have to water my garden for a couple of days...but I made sure to cover my tomatoes so they won't split.
Here's my crazy rigged up tomato tent:
Needs a bit of work, but it held up through the night. ;)