Sauces with sausages

The perfect topping for a plate of polenta.

My favorite way to use sausages is as an accent for other foods, usually cooked vegetables.
Recently I sampled sausages used as seasonings from diverse cuisines. One was at a Cajun fast-food restaurant with a Cantonese owner. (Cajuns are descendants of French settlers of Louisiana.) His dish of sliced Cajun sausage came in a spicy red sauce with broccoli florets, carrot slices and chunks of cabbage. It was odd to have a Cajun sausage with a Chinese presentation but the peppery combination tasted good.
Even meats can benefit from being enhanced with sausages. A striking example was the Turkish sucuk kofte sandwich that we savored at the Anatolian Cultures and Food Festival in Irvine, California. I was curious about the sign on the booth that said “sucuk kofte” and asked the cook who was grilling meatballs, “Do you serve both sucuk [dry, spicy Balkan sausage] and kofte [meatballs]?” “These are kofte with sucuk in them,” he explained, and told me they are a specialty of Izmir, near Turkey’s Aegean coast. They were small, rather flat and very flavorful; served in a fresh roll with pickled semi-hot peppers, cucumber pickles and plenty of fresh tomato slices, they were delicious.
On the other side of the Aegean, Greeks also pair peppers with spicy sausages. Benny Saida, author of Food from the Balkans (in Hebrew), makes Greek pepper and spicy sausage stew from fried green peppers and pungent sausages simmered in a sauce of onions and garlic sauteed in olive oil, fresh tomatoes and hot peppers. The saucelike stew is served hot, with bread for dipping.
These kinds of saucy dishes are a great way to use sausages, as you need only a small amount to flavor a large pot of sauce. You can serve them not only with bread, but over rice or noodles.
For a super-quick meal, the chefs of Coleman Natural, makers of organic chicken sausages, recommend heating sliced sausages in your favorite tomato sauce. You can serve it over polenta, as they do, but it’s also good over rice, pasta or cooked vegetables.
Sausage and eggplant sauce for pasta is another tasty idea from Coleman. Its savory recipe calls for simmering sliced chicken sausages with sauteed tomatoes, garlic and chicken broth, combining the sauce with sauteed eggplant cubes and tossing it with penne and fresh basil.
Another typical Italian recipe comes from Neshama Gourmet Kosher Foods: Make a sausage-flavored red sauce by cooking sliced chicken sausage with onions sauteed in olive oil, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and diluted tomato paste, and season it with oregano and bay leaves. Here too, the sausage quickly adds flavor to the sauce and enriches it, making it the perfect topping for a plate of pasta.
Beans also benefit from sausage-enhanced sauces. Cook your own beans, as in the recipe below, or, when you’re in a rush, open a can of beans and a can of tomato sauce and heat them together with flavorful sliced or diced sausages, for a satisfying supper in a flash.
In the following recipes, you can use chicken or turkey sausages or, if you prefer, beef or vegetarian sausages. All fully cooked sausages can be simply sliced and heated in the sauce. If you are using fresh, uncooked sausages, it’s best to grill or saute them first until they are cooked through, and then to add them to the sauce.
This spaghetti sauce gains pizzazz not only from the sausage, but from the additional flavorings of cumin, turmeric, garlic and hot peppers. For lovers of extra-pungent food, make it with spicy sausages.
Serve the sauce over hot cooked spaghetti or rice, accompanied by a large bowl of green salad or Israeli salad. For 4 servings, serve the sauce with 350 grams to 450 gr. of pasta.
You can prepare the sauce through the second paragraph and keep it, covered, for two days in the refrigerator. Reheat it thoroughly before serving, and then add the parsley and green onion. Remember to taste the pasta for seasoning after tossing it with the sauce, as it may need extra salt or pepper.
350 gr. chicken sausage, diced4 to 5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil2 medium onions, minced1 cup chopped celery (optional)2 small fresh hot peppers, ribs and seeds removed,    minced (see Note) Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste3 large garlic cloves, minced1 Tbsp. ground cumin1 tsp. turmeric1 cup tomato sauce1⁄4 cup chopped parsley3 Tbsp. chopped green onion
Saute sausage in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat, stirring often, until lightly browned; add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil if the pan becomes dry. If the sausage pieces give off fat, transfer them to a strainer above a bowl and drain, reserving drippings.
Return 1 tablespoon drippings to skillet. Add 3 tablespoons oil and heat over medium heat. Add onions, celery, peppers and a pinch of salt and ground pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes or until onion is soft but not brown. Add cooked sausage, garlic, cumin and turmeric and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add tomato sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Just before serving, add parsley and green onion to the hot sauce.
Makes 4 main-course servings.
NOTE: If you are sensitive to hot peppers, wear gloves when handling them. After cutting the peppers, wash cutting board and knife with soap and hot water, and wash your hands if you didn’t wear gloves.
Sausages and beans are a popular pair in many different countries from Europe to the Mideast to the New World, as the mild-flavored beans are a perfect foil for the rich, often spicy sausages.
This Italian/Provençal recipe is delicious as a saucy stew with chunky bread, or as a sauce for rice, pasta, or even couscous or bulgur wheat.
If the beans are reasonably fresh – in other words, you’ve bought them within the past year, you don’t need to soak them before cooking. If you don’t have time to cook beans, drain two 400-gram cans of beans and heat them with the sausages and sauce.
450 gr. dried white beans, such as Great Northern 
   beans (about 21⁄3 cups)
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
900 gr. ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or
   11⁄2 to two 800-gr. cans tomatoes, drained and chopped
1⁄2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried oregano
350 gr. to 450 gr, chicken or turkey sausages, any flavor
   you like
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
Sort beans carefully in batches, discarding any broken ones and any stones. Rinse beans and drain.
Put beans in a large saucepan and add bay leaf and 21⁄2 quarts water.Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat, adding hot water ifnecessary so that beans remain covered, until they are tender, about11⁄2 hours, adding salt after the first hour. Discard bay leaf.
Heat oil in a large, deep skillet. Add onion and cook over medium-lowheat, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes or until soft but notbrowned. Add garlic, followed by tomatoes, thyme, oregano, salt andpepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, about 20 minutes oruntil tomatoes are soft and mixture is thick.
Cover sausages with water in a medium saucepan and bring just to asimmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 7 minutes. Drain well andslice.
Reheat beans if necessary, and drain well. Add to tomato sauce and mixgently to avoid breaking up the beans. Add sliced sausages to beans,cover, and warm over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes to blend flavors.Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve sprinkled with parsley.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Faye Levy is the author of Faye Levy’s International Chicken Cookbook.