Sausage and Sauerkraut Skillet Dinner

Combining sausage and sauerkraut is a natural. Just ask anyone you know who is of German descent. The dish long has been a favorite of other Northern Europeans as well. The combination is especially tasty when the ingredients are homemade.

I’ve been making my own sausage (from deer or elk) for the past half-dozen or so  years, and my good friend, Darrel Koehler, is an expert at making sauerkraut. So, whenever I combine the two, it’s a meal that is hard to beat.

Last night, instead of my usual way of baking the pair in a Dutch oven, I made a skillet dinner. To add a little spice to it, I added some homemade mustard, which was made with Hungarian wax peppers, and brown sugar.

The result was all that I expected, especially when combined with mashed potatoes, whole-kernel corn and some homemade pickled beets.

Here’s the recipe. You can substitute store-bought sausage and sauerkraut. And I think a type of honey mustad (hot, sweet or both) would work fine, too.

Sausage and Sauerkraut Skillet Dinner
5 tablespoons butter or pork fat
1 small onion, finely diced
1-pound ring smoked or Polish sausage
1 15-ounce can sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons spicy honey mustard
Place sausage in a cast-iron frying pan with about 1 inch of water. Simmer over medium heat until water evaporates.
Add butter and/or pork fat along with onion. Melt butter and then saute onions and sausage for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add sauerkraut, brown sugar and mustard along with ½ cup water. Cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Brown sausage on both sides and serve immediately or cover and simmer over low heat until dinnertime.
Yield: Serves 4.
Note: Serve sausage and sauerkraut with mashed or boiled potatoes and whole-kernel corn.

Sausage And Potato Casserole

Struggling to come up with original ideas for supper isn’t new. Cooks for years have been dealing with this dilemma. But there are those who look at this as a challenge. And if you have a little imagination, the possibilities are endless.

Those who don’t fall into this category, though, needn’t worry. With unending resources available on the Internet, a tasty supper is just keystrokes away.

I sometimes find myself looking for something new to fix for dinner. It’s those times I go to the Web or one of my dozens of cookbooks in search of inspiration. Often what I come up with is a combination of two or more recipes, and with my cooking experience over the years, the result generally is more than acceptable.

Here is a recipe that I fixed the other night. It’s the combination of a recipe I  found on the Internet and a little imagination. The result was delicious. And the nicest thing about it was I had all the ingredients on hand.

Sausage And Potato Casserole
1 pound sausage, cut in ½-inch slices (see note)
5 medium new potatoes (sliced thin)
1 small onion (chopped)
1 can mushroom soup
¾ cup milk
½ cup sour cream
Salt, pepper and garlic salt to taste
Cheddar cheese
Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 2-quart (11-by-7-inch) baking dish.
Cut up the kielbasa, potatoes and onion. In your baking dish, lay down your potatoes in a row and then your kielbasa and onions. Mix together in a small bowl the mushroom soup, milk, sour cream, salt, pepper and garlic salt. Pour this mixture over the potatoes and kielbasa. Bake in the oven for 1 hour and then top with cheese and put it back in the oven for 10 minutes. Just make sure your potatoes are fork tender.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.
Note: Kielbasa or your favorite sausage will work in this recipe.

Scotch Eggs

The London Olympics are finally here. And with it, there will be a lot of people tuning in their televisions to check out the action. And with all of this TV watching, there will be a lot of eating taking place.

And can you think of a better way to celebrate the big doings in merry old England than eating some British food?

How about Scotch Eggs, an entree that’s usually associated picnics in Great Britain? According to a friend of mine, artist Adam Kemp, who hails from the Isles, Scotch Eggs are to the English like potato salad is to Americans.

Miniature versions of Scotch eggs are also widely available in British supermarkets and are sold under the name “savoury eggs,” “picnic eggs,” “party eggs,” “snack eggs” or similar. These contain chopped egg or a quail’s egg, rather than a whole chicken egg, and sometimes contain mayo or chopped bacon.

In the United States, many “British-style” pubs and eateries serve fresh-made Scotch eggs. These are usually served hot, with dipping sauces such as ranch dressing, hot sauce or hot mustard sauce. And if you’re at the Minnesota State Fair, true to fair tradition, Scotch Eggs are served on a stick.

Here’s a recipe for Scotch Eggs. It’s from Gordon Ramsay, who  may be best known in the U.S. as the screaming savior of failing restaurants on “Kitchen Nightmares” and fierce judge on “Hell’s Kitchen” and “MasterChef.” He is also a cookbook author, and it’s in “Gordon Ramsay’s Great British Pub Food” (Harper Collins, 2009) that you can find the recipe for this killer British delicacy.

Scotch Eggs
8 medium eggs, room temperature
1½ pounds good quality sausage meat
Handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
4 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon English mustard powder
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Salt, pepper
Flour, for dredging
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Fine white breadcrumbs
Oil, for deep-frying
Cook the eggs in boiling water for 8 minutes. Drain, cool and peel.
Mix the sausage meat, herbs, mustard, lemon, salt and pepper, then divide into 8 balls. Flatten each ball into a disc large enough to encase an egg. Place the egg in the center and wrap in sausage.
One at a time, roll the egg in the flour, dip in beaten egg, then roll in breadcrumbs.
Heat oil, about 3 inches deep, in a pan until hot enough that a breadcrumb sizzles when dropped in. Deep-fry the eggs for 4 to 5 minutes, turning once or twice to ensure even browning. Drain on paper towels.
Yield: Makes 8.

Chicken Sausage Kebabs with Pineapple and Peppers

It’s no secret that sausage is one of the most popular foods around. There is evidence that it was a favorite of the Greeks and the Roman more than 20 centuries ago. I don’t find that hard to understand.

I might be a bit prejudiced, but the sausage that we have most often at home is my favorite. Of course, it’s sausage that I make it with a couple of friends each year, combining either venison or elk with pork and a few select seasonings.

That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of good commercially made sausages on the market. And I can’t forget to mention the local meat markets that put out their own such varieties as L&M Meats in Grand Forks and B&E Meats in Crookston, two of my favorites.

One store-bought type of sausage that has gained popularity in recent years is that made with chicken. It is a nice alternative to pork-based sausages. The National Chicken Council says sausage is the fastest-growing chicken product. And it’s showing no sign of slowing, according to a story I read recently.

I’ve had chicken sausage a couple of times and have found it quite tasty. Here are a couple of chicken sausage recipes that have I haven’t tried but that have piqued my interest.

Chicken Sausage Kebabs with Pineapple and Peppers
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
4 fully cooked favorite chicken sausages (any variety), each cut into 6 pieces
24 mini bell peppers
24 pieces (about 1½ inch chunks) fresh pineapple
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat or prepare the grill for medium-high heat. In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, honey and mayonnaise; set aside. Thread 3 sausage pieces alternatively with 3 peppers and 3 pineapple pieces onto each of 8 skewers. Place on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Grill skewers until vegetables are lightly charred and crisp-tender and sausage is heated through, turning occasionally and brushing with mustard mixture during last 1 or 2 minutes, about 8 minutes total.
Arrange skewers on platter. Brush with any remaining mustard mixture or serve the mustard mixture on the side.
Yield: 8 kebabs.
Approximate nutritional analysis per kebab: 156 calories, 41 percent of calories from fat, 8 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 17 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams protein, 538 milligrams sodium, 43 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.

Chicken Sausage Pesto Pizza
2 to 3 links favorite fully-cooked chicken sausage
1 13.8-ounce package pizza crust, such as Pillsbury regular, thin or whole wheat
2 tablespoons pesto
5 mini red, orange or yellow peppers, sliced
½ cup sliced red onion
1 cup (or more as desired) Italian-blend cheese, divided
¾ cup grape tomatoes, halved
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the chicken sausage into ¼-inch slices on the diagonal. Set aside.
Press the pizza dough into a round pizza pan or shape on a baking sheet.
Brush the pesto over the pizza crust. Arrange peppers and onions on crust. Sprinkle with ½ cup of the cheese. Arrange chicken sausage slices and grape tomato halves on top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and few grinds of freshly ground black pepper.
Bake about 13 minutes or until crust is browned both on the bottom and edge and the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven, let sit 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Yield: Serves 4 (2 slices each).
Approximate nutritional analysis per slice: 235 calories, 38 percent of calories from fat, 10 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 24 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams protein, 662 milligrams sodium, 42 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.

Sausage Reuben Casserole

There are several things that separate good cooks from mediocre ones. For one thing, good cooks have an appropriate knowledge and use of spices (including salt). Another is that they don’t substitute just any old thing for an ingredient they may not have on hand.

For me, there is another characteristic of a good cook that tips the scale. A good cook is one who can make a tasty dish out of what they have in the kitchen cupboard, pantry, refrigerator or freezer.

The meal we’re having for supper tonight falls into the third category. I put together a casserole with items from all four of the above-mentioned places where food is stored.

From the freezer, I pulled out a ring of sausage. The pantry shelf yielded a quart of homemade sauerkraut and some cream of mushroom soup. In the cupboard, I discovered a package of egg noodles. And in the refrigerator, there was some Swiss cheese, mustard, milk, butter and onion.

Along with some rye that I picked up at the supermarket earlier in the day, those ingredients came together for a casserole, which would great for a potluck and that some might say resembles a Reuben, sans the pastrami or corned beef and Thousand Island dressing.

Sausage Reuben Casserole
1 8-ounce package egg noodles
2 13-ounce cans sauerkraut, drained
2 10¾-ounce cans condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 1/3 cups milk
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1½ pounds Polish sausage or kielbasa, halved and cut into ½-inch slices
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
½ cup soft rye bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Cook noodles according to package directions; drain. Spread sauerkraut in a greased shallow 4-quart baking dish. Top with noodles. In a large bowl, combine the soup, milk, onion and mustard; pour over the noodles. Top with sausage; sprinkle with cheese.
Combine bread crumbs and butter; sprinkle over the top. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
Yield: Serves 12.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving (1 cup): 341 calories, 21 grams fat (10 grams saturated), 72 milligrams cholesterol, 827 milligrams sodium, 22 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 14 grams protein.

Sausage Brunch Bake

Food contests can be a lot of fun. And depending on which one your enter, it can be a very profitable venture should your recipe be singled out as a winner by judges.

Just ask Christina Verrelli of Devon, Pa., whose pumpkin-ravioli dessert recipe won her the $1 million grand prize of the 45th annual Pillsbury Bake-Off. (She also won the Sweet Treats category as well. For a look at all the winners, go to www.pillsbury.com)

After looking over the other winning recipes, I decided to take a closer look at the top one in the Breakfast and Brunch category. Submitted by Maria Vasseur of Valencia, Calif., the Sausage-Pomodoro Brunch Bake looks like one that I might like to try. The hearty egg bake recipe also contains tomatoes and two cheeses.

Sausage-Pomodoro Brunch Bake
1 12-ounce package bulk reduced-fat pork breakfast sausage
1/3 cup refrigerated basil pesto
1 can Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 14.5-ounce can Muir Glen organic diced tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (1½ ounce)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
6 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons shredded fresh basil leaves
Heat oven to 375degrees. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook sausage 6 to 8 minutes over medium heat or until no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in pesto. Set aside to cool. 2 Unroll crescent dough into 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish. Press dough in bottom and ½ inch up sides. Press perforations to seal. Spoon sausage into dough-lined dish. Sprinkle tomatoes and feta cheese over sausage. Top with mozzarella cheese. 3 In medium bowl, beat eggs and milk with wire whisk until well-blended. Pour egg mixture evenly over ingredients in dish. 4 Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until dough is golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh basil.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 390 calories, 27 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 205 milligrams cholesterol, 890 milligrams sodium, 16 grams carbohydrates, no dietary fiber, 5 grams sugars, 20 grams protein.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream
4 tablespoons butter, melted and divided
2 3-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
½ cup canned pumpkin (not the pie filling)
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup sugar
5 tablespoons flour, divided
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
2 cans refrigerated crescent roll dough (seamless sheets)
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 tsp. salt
5 tablespoons caramel syrup, divided
4 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 2 large cookie sheets with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and pumpkin with electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until smooth. Add egg yolk, vanilla, sugar, 3 tablespoons flour and pumpkin pie spice; beat on low speed until blended. Reserve 4 teaspoons of the pecans; set aside. Stir remaining pecans into pumpkin mixture.
Lightly sprinkle work surface with 1 tablespoon flour. Unroll 1 can of dough on floured surface with short side facing you. Press dough into 14-by-12-inch rectangle. With paring knife, lightly score the dough in half horizontally. Lightly score bottom half of dough into 12 squares (3-by-2¼-inches each).
Spoon heaping tablespoon of pumpkin filling onto center of each square. Gently lift and position unscored half of dough over filling. Starting at the top folded edge, press handle of wooden spoon firmly between mounds and along edges of pumpkin filling to seal.
Using toothpick, poke small hole in top of each ravioli. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut between each ravioli; place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon flour, dough sheet and filling. Brush ravioli with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Bake 9 to 14 minutes or until golden brown.
Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat cream and salt with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Beat in 2 tablespoons caramel syrup until stiff peaks form. Transfer to serving bowl; cover and refrigerate.
Remove ravioli from oven. Sprinkle ravioli with 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar; turn. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar.
To serve, place 2 ravioli on each of 12 dessert plates. Drizzle each serving with scant teaspoon of the caramel syrup; sprinkle with reserved chopped pecans. With spoon, swirl remaining 1 tablespoon caramel syrup into bowl of whipped cream. Serve warm ravioli with whipped cream.
Yield: Serves 12.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 380 calories, 25 grams fat (13 grams saturated), 440 milligrams sodium, 35 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 70 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram dietary fiber.

Super Meal for Super Bowl

The regular season of the National Football League has come to an end, and teams are lined up for the playoffs that lead up to the Super Bowl. That means the plans for parties on the big game day already are circulating. And at the top of most is the menu.

Here is an interesting recipe for the chefs at The Culinary Institute of America. It’s called Choucroute Garni. It might sound complicated, but don’t let the fancy French name scare you away from trying something deliciously different on Super Bowl Sunday.

This German-inspired dish was born along the country’s border with France. Garni refers to the variety of garnishes that are served alongside the dish. Consisting of any combination of pickled cabbage and meat, the feast typically features a variety of sausages, including Frankfurt sausage, which served as the predecessor to the modern-day frankfurter. Boiled potatoes are the starch of choice, and the dish is seasoned with black pepper, cloves, and juniper berries, along with onions and white wine to sweeten the deal and brighten the flavors.

To watch CIA’s Chef-Instructor Cynthia Keller ’83 demonstrate how to prepare Choucroute Garni, go to  www.ciachef.edu/ChoucrouteGarni.

Choucroute Garni
5 pounds sauerkraut
1 clove garlic
8 juniper berries
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
8 to 12 black peppercorns
1 carrot
1 leek
2 branches of celery
1 parsnip
4 ounces vegetable oil
2 medium-sliced onions (approximately 2 cups)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock
1 smoked ham hock
2 pounds smoked pork loin
1-pound, 4-ounce- slab of bacon, cut into thick slices
4 pounds waxy potatoes, peeled
1-pound, 4-ounce garlic sausage
10 beef frankfurters
10 weisswurst (veal and pork sausage)
Drain the sauerkraut and rinse well in several changes of cold water. Drain and squeeze out water.
Place the garlic clove and spices in a small square of cheesecloth and tie with butcher’s twine to create a spice sachet bag. Tie the carrot, leek, celery, and parsnip with butcher’s twine to create a bouquet garni.
Heat half the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and sweat until tender without browning. Add the garlic and sweat briefly to release aroma. Add the sauerkraut to the onion mixture.
Add the wine and chicken stock. Bury the spice sachet, vegetable bouquet, and ham hock under the sauerkraut. Bring the liquid to a simmer.
Place the pork and the bacon on top of the sauerkraut. Cover tightly and braise in a 325-degree oven for approximately 45 minutes. Add the potatoes, garlic sausage and frankfurters to the pan, return the cover and continue to cook approximately 15 to 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the frankfurters are heated through. Add more liquid if needed.
While the potatoes and frankfurters are cooking, place a saute pan on medium heat. Add the remaining oil. Place the weisswurst in the pan and gently brown on all sides while heating the sausage through.
Remove the meats from the sauerkraut and keep warm. Slice the pork loin and garlic sausage.
Spoon the sauerkraut onto a warm platter and garnish with sliced pork loin, garlic sausage, sliced bacon, frankfurters, weisswurst, and potatoes.
Serve with mustard and a loaf of crusty French bread. Accompany with a dry Riesling wine from Alsace or your favorite artisan-brewed beer.
Yield: Serves 10.
Approximate nutritional analysis per 6-ounce serving: 270 calories, 12 grams protein, 5 grams carbohydrates, 21grams fat, 1,050 milligrams sodium, 50 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.

Go-To Gumbo

Okra is one of those vegetables that doesn’t get a lot of respect from people who live north of the Mason-Dixon line. “Slimy” is how some people describe it.

But when you combine these lovely little pods with something like tomatoes, that effect is diminished, and okra’s seedy yet soft texture shines.

I’ve been growing okra for a more than a half-dozen years and never have regretted it. I just love sauteeing okra with other fresh garden veggies. But perhaps my favorite dish that takes advantage of okra is gumbo, a Louisiana and New Orleans mainstay.

I just finished putting together my first pot of gumbo in more than a year and can’t wait to give it a try. Besides the okra, it contains onions, peppers and tomatoes from my garden as well as shrimp and andouille sausage.

I can’t think of a better way to dress up a bowl of rice.

Go-To Gumbo
1 pound medium shrimp in their shells
5 cups water
1 small yellow onion, quartered
2 sprigs parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 large, sweet onion, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 green pepper, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup flour
1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes in tomato puree, drained, liquid reserved, and tomatoes coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 pound smoked andouille sausage, cut into chunks
½ pound okra, fresh or frozen, cut into ½-inch lengths
Hot pepper sauce
2 cups cooked white rice
Working under cold running water, strip shells off shrimp and reserve. Devein shrimp, rinse, drain and refrigerate.
Boil: Tumble shrimp shells into a medium saucepan. Add the water, yellow onion, parsley, thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover and simmer until flavorful, about 45 minutes. Strain out and discard solids. Keep shrimp stock warm. (You should have about 3 cups.)
Pile up the chopped onion, celery, green pepper and garlic in a bowl. Keep these supplies at the ready.
Melt butter in a large Dutch oven. Add flour and cook, whisking, over medium-low heat until peanut-butter colored, about 10 to 20 minutes. Making roux takes patience.
Tumble in the chopped vegetables, cooling the roux. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes along with 1/3 cup of the reserved tomato puree. Stir in hot shrimp stock. Season with salt, oregano, thyme leaves and red pepper. Add sausage and simmer for 20 minutes. Add okra and simmer another 10 minutes. Add shrimp and simmer until just cooked through, 3 minutes.
Scoop hot rice into each bowl. Inundate with gumbo. Splash with pepper sauce, if you like it hot.
Yield: Serves 6.

Fennel and Sausage Pasta

Anyone who’s eaten food that contains fennel knows that the versatile vegetable has a distinctly aromatic taste that is unique. It’s strikingly reminiscent of licorice and anise.

Most often associated with Italian cooking, fennel is a mainstay in Mediterranean cuisine, where both its bulbs and fronds are used, both raw and cooked, in side dishes, salads, pastas, vegetable dishes and risottos. Fennel seed also is a common ingredient in Italian sausages and meatballs.

If I didn’t know this before, a recent conversation with some friends of mine, the Gambuccis, a proud Italian family, made the point perfectly clear. I had mentioned making some marinara sauce, and one of the daughters, Mary Ann, asked if mine included fennel. She said real marinara sauce had to contain fennel. I had to admit that it didn’t but that it seemed like a good idea.

My cooking experience with fennel is somewhat limited, although I’ve made a few dishes containing it over the years. My repertoire will certainly expand a little soon, since Therese just came home from the supermarket with some fennel. While I don’t exactly recall the context of the conversation, she and a friend of ours were talking about fennel just the other day. I suspect that’s what prompted her to make the purchase.

I’m not sure what to make, but the following recipes are possibilities. One is for a sausage and fennel pasta. Another is a white bean salad with fennel and roasted red pepper. The third is a fennel saute with sausage and beans. All look delicious. Maybe I’ll have to try each of them.

Fennel and Sausage Pasta
½ pound lean turkey sausage (preferably fennel-flavored)
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 cup cauliflower florets broken into small pieces
1 cup canned, no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
4 ounces dried spaghetti
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Put a 3- to 4-quart saucepan of water on to boil. Cut sausage into ½-inch slices. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute sausage 2 minutes and set aside. Add fennel, onion and cauliflower to the pan and saute 5 minutes. As the vegetables start to color, return the sausage to the skillet for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and set aside, covered, off the heat.
As soon as the water boils, cook the spaghetti about 8 minutes. Drain and return to saucepan. Add the olive oil and toss. Add the sausage mixture and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well and serve with parsley on top.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 535 calories, 27 percent of calories from fat, 16.3 grams fat (3.5 grams saturated, 3.5 grams monounsaturated), 60 milligrams cholesterol, 30 grams protein, 67.8 grams carbohydrates, 7.8 grams fiber, 480 milligrams sodium.

Fennel Saute with Beans and Sausage
1 large fennel bulb, cored, chopped, stalks and ½ cup fronds, reserved 3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 large leeks, halved, rinsed, sliced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 14½-ounces can white beans, drained
6 precooked turkey sausages, sliced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup grated cheese, such as Asiago, Parmesan or Romano
Roughly chop the fennel stalks; heat the stalks, other trimmings, water and ¼ teaspoon of the salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook until just tender, about 15 minutes. Strain broth into a medium bowl; discard stalks and trimmings.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat; add onions, leeks, ½ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chopped fennel bulb; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add a little fennel broth if mixture becomes dry. Stir in beans, sliced sausage, remaining ¼ teaspoon of the salt, remaining ¼ teaspoon of the red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste; cook until warmed through, adding more fennel broth if needed.
Serve in bowls, topped with grated cheese and chopped fennel fronds.
Note: Feel free to use all the fennel trimmings when you make the broth. For this recipe, use as much or as little broth as you wish; store any extra in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for later use.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional information per serving: 544 calories, 50 percent of calories from fat, 30 grams fat, 9 grams saturated fat, 137 milligrams cholesterol, 40 grams carbohydrates, 28 grams protein, 1,827 milligrams sodium, 9 grams fiber.

White Bean Salad with Roasted Red Pepper and Fennel
1 15-ounce can Great Northern white beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup diced roasted red pepper
½ cup diced fennel
12 medium leaves fresh basil, cut into slivers (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons minced green onions
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon sea or kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Mix together beans, roasted red pepper, fennel, basil, green onions and parsley in a medium bowl.
Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Pour over the beans, and toss to combine. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes; toss again briefly before serving.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 235 calories, 15 grams fat (2 grams saturated), no cholesterol; 6 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams sugar, 7 grams fiber, 470 milligrams sodium, 50 milligrams calcium.

Cabbage and Kielbasa Skillet Supper

We had some kielbasa from Kramarczuk’s Sausage Co. on the grill the other night, and let me tell you, it was mighty tasty. I picked up the sausage, along with some Polish and coarse ground wieners, at the family-owned, northeast Minneapolis institution while on a recent trip to watch the Minnesota Twins play baseball.

I decided to go to Kramarczuk’s after a friend, Rich Vezina, offered to take me there. At the previous night’s ball game, I had a Polish with sauerkraut and fried onions from Kramarczuk’s at one of the company’s two concession carts at Target Field. (Kramarczuk’s also serves  bratwurst and Hungarian sausages at the field that are made fresh daily, just one mile from the ballpark.)

I’ve always been a fan of kielbasa, whether the pork or turkey variety. I have a couple of recipes that call for kielbasa, one of which is among my favorite soups.

I’m always on the lookout for more kielbasa recipes, and just recently, came across the following that also contains thinly sliced cabbage and onions. The nice thing about the recipe is that it can be cooked in a skillet on the stove and takes only 10 minutes to prep and 15 minutes to cook.

Cabbage and Kielbasa Skillet Supper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 16-ounce package coleslaw or 6 cups finely shredded cabbage
¼ to ½ cup chicken broth
1 apple, peeled if desired, diced
4 precooked kielbasa sausages
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onions. Cook, stirring often, until onion softens, about 3 minutes. Add cabbage, ¼ cup of the broth and apple. Cover; reduce heat to low. Simmer 5 minutes.
Stir in caraway seeds, salt and pepper to taste. Arrange cooked sausages over cabbage. Add more of the broth if needed. Cover; cook 5 minutes. Uncover; cook until broth is reduced, about 2 minutes; do not let vegetables burn.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 241 calories, 50 percent of calories from fat, 14 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 45 milligrams cholesterol, 17 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams protein, 407 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.