I have a confession to make. I love sausage. I know that’s probably odd coming from someone whose business is health coaching. I’ve recently realized that sausage is my favorite meat. It just adds so much flavor to anything you put it in! My husband finds this hilarious because when he met me, the only animal protein I ate was fish, chicken and turkey. On the rare occasion that I did decide to eat pork or beef it could not be what I referred to as a “circle” meat – meat that was cylindrical in shape and was comprised of lots of bits of unknown things (think salami, bologna, sausage, hot dogs, pepperoni etc). I just never liked it and frankly they grossed me out (bologna and hot dogs still do). It wasn’t until I started to learn to cook after I moved in with him that I even considered the possibility that sausage could have a place in my diet. These days, it appears on our dinner plates at least a couple times a month. I get local when I can (our meat share from our CSA at Middle Branch Farm provides some) and the rest of the time I purchase chicken or pork sausages whose ingredient lists only contain things I recognize (applegate organic, aidells, organic prairie and al fresco are some brands that have simple ingredient lists that I see where I live). They all have more salt in them than I would like but let’s be honest that’s partially what makes them so delicious.
This week, during one of my sausage cravings, I decided to make a fast version of italian giardiniera salad and serve them together. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out (cold salad & hot sausage?) but it was a good idea and very filling! The actual making the salad only takes about 10 minutes (between chopping and lightly cooking the veggies) but you’ll want to serve it chilled so throw it into the fridge for an additional 20 minutes or so. The flavor of the salad will get better the longer it sits (real giardiniera is marinated for a couple days usually before eating) but I wanted crunchy, tangy cold veggies right away so 20 minutes it was (and that’s why this is the super fast version). Super yummy.And don’t feel like you need to serve this with sausage or any other meat – it’s pretty delicious on it’s own. This may make an appearance at a few BBQs this summer.I know you’re wondering, where’s the starch? carb? bread? grains? for this meal or for most of my recipes. I do eat grains (whole ones mostly) and starches but I find filling up on vegetables, protein and fat for most of the day keeps me the most satisfied and least bloated. And, the less I eat grain/starchy carbs the less I get urges to binge or eat uncontrollably because my blood sugar isn’t being subjected to spikes. I probably eat only one or two servings of grains or starch a day. I know this may not work for you but it’s something to think about if cravings or binging are something you struggle with. It’s taken me my entire adult life to get in touch with how the food I eat affects me physically (and emotionally) so I’m sticking with it. The key is making sure I get a good amount of fat and protein plus bulk (from the veggies). Okay, sorry I’ve gone off on a tangent (but one that I love to talk about). Here’s the recipe!!!
And my apologies for the blurry photos. I was in a rush to get this into my belly and really wasn’t thinking it would be blog worthy before I ate it.
Giardiniera with Chicken Sausage (Super Fast Version)
1 small head of cauliflower
2 large carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
3 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
2 roasted red peppers, diced (make your own or buy them)
14 green olives, chopped (I used pitted unstuffed ones but anything you like goes!)
2 green scallions, diced
1/4 fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste (I use Light Grey Celtic Sea Salt by Selina Naturally)
freshly ground black pepper
4 – 5 links chicken sausage, casings removed (skip this if you bought pre-cooked sausage*)
Bring a small pot of water to a boil and toss in the cauliflower, carrots and celery. Let simmer for 5-6 minutes, then drain water and put veggies in a big bowl. Add in the rest of the ingredients (except for sausage) and stir well. Put in the fridge to chill. Cook the sausage over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Once cooked, set aside for a few minutes until your giardiniera is cold enough for you then top the giardiniera with the warm sausage and get crunching.
*If you are using pre-cooked sausage, leave the casing on, dice up and then just cook until warmed through.
Serves 4 (and assuming you choose gluten free sausage, this is gluten free & dairy free)
I ate the leftovers cold (both the sausage and salad) for lunch the next day and it was even better! I’m thinking this would also be delicious with some white beans and pepperoncini mixed in.