My family is rather partial to the odd sausage or two. Or three. In fact, we eat rather a lot of them in our house. And now that I’m trying to be a bit more creative with our food, I’m always on the look out for new ways to present the humble banger. This sausage, carrot and fennel bake, which first started life as a Leon vegetarian side dish, is a great meal.
I love Leon. I love their style, their ethos, their food. If I lived in London and had rather more money, I’d be eating there all the time. But as I don’t on either count, I have to make do with their cookery books. Leon’s focus is on fabulous ingredients:
When we first started Leon… we tried to imagine what a high-street fast food joint might be like in heaven: a place where fresh unprocessed, satisfying meals are served with pride. (From ‘Naturally Fast Food’)
That says it all. Leon’s approach to food is definitely the Bangers & Mash approach. My food might not always hit the same culinary heights but I’m aiming in the same direction at least.
In Leon’s Naturally Fast Food, there’s a delicious recipe for roast carrots and fennel in parmesan breadcrumbs. I discovered it on one of those common occassions when an item arrives in the veg box and I desperately needed ideas on what on earth to do with it. The item this time was a fennel. Obviously any proper foodie worth their salt would be going wild with excitement at all the possibilities presented by a fennel. I just needed to find something that the kids might actually eat. And this recipe worked a treat.
After making this dish a few times, it occurred to me that with the simple addition of a few sausages, this side dish could become an easy one-pan main meal. I tried it and it worked. One of my more successful experiments. So here it is. My sausage, carrot and fennel bake, with a little help from the kind people at Leon.
Sausage, carrot and fennel bake
8 good quality pork sausages
500g carrots, peeled and cut into diagonal chunks
500g fennel, trimmed and cut into wedges
4 tbsp olive oil
a handful of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
100g stale white bread (if you only have fresh, bake a couple of slices in a low oven for 1o minutes)
4 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper
50g parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 220ºC/gas mark 7.
Put 2 tbsp olive oil and the sausages into a large roasting tin and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
In a bowl, toss the carrots and fennel in the remaining oil. Turn the sausages and then add the carrots and fennel to the roasting tin along with 75ml of hot water.
Put back in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the vegetables and sausages and return again for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the carrots and fennel are tender and the sausages are browning.
Into a food processor, place the stale bread, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper and blitz until you have fine, herby breadcrumbs.
Once the sausages and vegetables are cooked, sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and then scatter over the parmesan. Return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes until the topping is golden and crispy. And serve.
For a slightly different take on the same dish, head over to Emma’s Kitchen. The lovely Emma saw a picture of my sausage and fennel bake on this blog a couple of weeks ago and rustled up her own version. It’s quite similar but she uses ciabatta for the topping and also parsnip and onion. I’ll definitely be giving it a try sometime soon!