When a man works all day he wants to find some meat on his plate when he sits down for the evening meal (is it dinner or supper?). With certain meals the meat can be hard to find, for instance, pasta. Sure you can use a “meat sauce” but I’m usually back in the kitchen a few hours later looking for a snack to take me through until morning. It doesn’t have to be this way. I found a great way to bring the meat to the pasta AND use the grill to do it. Plus it goes together in less than an hour.
The O6 have been hooked on these little sweet peppers that showed up at Costco a year or so ago. They are a little bigger than a jalapeno and usually colored yellow, orange and red. They don’t have too many seeds and they are so sweet that I usually have to throw the kids out of the kitchen when I’m cooking with them because they’ll just hop next to me and beg (especially Kumquat).
Since we started buying them (for less than $4 per three-pound bag) they have become a cornerstone of our salads and sandwiches and anything else that you would use a green pepper for. They taste great and they add some vibrant colors to the plate at the same time.
I have made this dish a few times before and I always wish that I had made more because it’s just as good as leftovers as it is the first time and it’s so easy. Last weekend while picking up my bag of peppers, I found a giant (six pound) bag of sweet Italian sausage over at the meat department for $13. I couldn’t say no, so we put sausage and peppers on the menu.
This is so basic because the main ingredients speak for themselves, you really don’t need to add many spices. So, getting started. Turn on the grill to high, you’re going to want a hot grill for this one, and set out the following:
Italian sausage links (3 lbs) or as much as you need for your situation
Sweet peppers – I used the whole bag but your mileage may vary
Green bell pepper
½ yellow onion
While the grill is heating up wash the peppers and cut the tops off, I clean out the seeds too, but you wouldn’t have to, and cut them in half the long way. Slice the onion like a pie to make pedal shaped pieces. Cut up the green pepper into bite sized pieces.
By this time the grill should be hot – around 400 – 500 degrees. Scrape it down and add your sausages. Turn the grill down to medium-high. Back inside place all your peppers and onions into the foil pan, coat them with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and add some fresh black pepper to the party. I love crushed red pepper and would suggest adding it here if you’re into that. If not, skip it. Right now I just put it on the table because it’s not really nice to the little ones to hide spicy little landmines in their food. I’ll wait until they’re a little older before I sneak in the high heat. You might notice that there is no salt on the list. I find that the sausage is usually plenty salty, so you don’t really need any more (although I did add a pinch this time).
Time to introduce the peppers to the fire. Clear off one side of the grill and set the pan right on the grate. Turn this side up a little higher (if you have that capability). We are looking for some caramelizing of the sugars and even some char – yes char – I know we talked about this during our bacon wrapped tenderloin – char is bad, right? Sometimes, but controlled char can be your friend, and this time char will be your BFF.
Your sausages should be hissing and causing some flare ups, that’s ok. Let it burn we actually want some blackening of the sausages too. Once they develop a dark brown, flip them and close the lid.
Resist the urge to stir your peppers too much, we want to develop dark spots on everything, so let it go with the lid closed, stirring every six or seven minutes, you will be able to smell when it’s time to stir, I can’t really describe it for you, but I believe in you and your nose. Take this time to pour some wine. I was enjoying a Shiraz Cabernet from Black Opal, it turned out to work quite well with the meal.
While all this is cooking, let’s take some time to talk about the supporting cast for this meal. There are many ways to go. We happened to have a bag of frozen spinach ravioli that we prepared with some diced tomatoes and olive oil and topped with parmesan cheese. But any pasta and red sauce combination will do, nothing has to be fancy because the peppers and sausage will definitely be the stars. Last time we had this with Shaina’s stuffed manicotti. To round things off we warmed up a loaf of multi grain bread and put together a garden salad with cucumbers and carrots. The whole meal went together in 45 minutes (that’s quick for me).
So what’s left? Give the peppers a stir and remove the sausages when they’re thoroughly browned/blacked. Close the lid and let the peppers finish up. Take the sausages back to the kitchen and slice them into bite sized pieces. Now you could leave this step up to the individuals by serving the sausages whole, but I like this presentation and it allows for people to control their portion size a little more.
Time to get the peppers. Turn off the grill and bring them in, use care because the bottom of your pan will be messy (worse than the bottom of the cedar plank we used for the salmon). I used a paper towel to provide a barrier between the hot pad and the pan bottom – you’re smart, I’m sure you can figure something out. Add the sausage pieces to the peppers and mix well.
All that’s left is plating. I would recommend building a pile of food starting with your pasta, then sauce, then the sausage and pepper blend. Add a salad and some bread, top off your wine and enjoy. This is one pasta meal that won’t have you searching for a Klondike Bar at 9:00.