Sausages for summer

Sausages are frequently grilled, but you don't have to heat up the barbecue to enjoy them.

sausage with rice 88 248 (photo credit: Bloomberg News)
sausage with rice 88 248
(photo credit: Bloomberg News)
Sausages are often served in warming entrees like choucroute (French style sauerkraut topped with meats) and hearty bean and lentil soups. But these flavorful, ready-to-eat meats are also great time savers for summer fare. Although sausages are frequently grilled and served in rolls with mustard or ketchup, you don't have to heat up the barbecue to enjoy them. In fact, sausages make more interesting suppers with better nutrition when they are used as a component of other dishes, along with vegetables or pasta, so that they contribute their richness and savory or spicy flavors to the other ingredients. I never thought of putting sausages in a salad until I discovered such salads in France. A favorite pastime of mine during my years in Paris was strolling along our neighborhood's streets and looking at the enticing food displays at the charcuteries. I was surprised to find potato salads with sliced sausages at several shops. Back at home, I prepared the recipe and found that the savory but mild meat added interest to the neutral-flavored potatoes and both benefited from a mustard-flavored vinaigrette. Adding sausages to salads is not unusual in France. Marie-Claude Bisson, author of La Bonne Cuisine Francaise featuring traditional French home cooking, has sausages in quite a few salads. For salade alsacienne, she combines smoked garlic sausage with cooked sliced potatoes, diced beets, mushrooms, celery and white wine vinaigrette. Green bean and sausage salad features hard-boiled eggs, vinaigrette, chopped shallots, garlic and parsley. In all sausage-loving lands cooks have come up with dishes matching sausage with potatoes and other vegetables or grains. Alina Zeranska, author of The Art of Polish Cooking, bakes a diced cooked Polish sausage and macaroni casserole with cooked peas and a creamy sauce. She has an unusual salad of frankfurter slices, diced tomatoes and onions seasoned with sugar and vinegar. Her potato frankfurter salad, in contrast to the French ones, is dressed with mayonnaise instead of vinaigrette. Benny Saida, author of What a Salad! (in Hebrew) also puts smoked sausage in his flavorful mayo-dressed potato salad, along with hard-boiled eggs, pickled cucumbers and diced black olives. German Brunswick salad features sausage in an uncommon sweet-and-sour mixture. According to Antony and Araminta Hippisley Coxe, authors of The Great Book of Sausages, it contains grated apple, chopped pickled cucumber, sliced tomato and green beans, with an olive-oil dressing flavored with pickle juice. They note that Hungarians fry smoked sausage with green peppers and scramble the mixture with eggs. In Spain sausages flavor a quick bean dish made by browning cooked white beans in the fat used to fry the sausages, then mixing the sausages with the beans and sprinkling them with parsley and chives. The Spanish also cook rice and vegetables with fried sausage to make a version of paella. Naturally, rice is a popular partner for sausages in East Asia. A favorite item of mine from Cantonese dim sum brunches is sticky rice in lotus leaf, for which the rice is mixed with mushrooms and thin slices of sweet Chinese sausage, wrapped and steamed. The sausage gives the rice a delicious flavor. POTATO AND SAUSAGE SALAD WITH MUSTARD-CAPER VINAIGRETTE The zesty Dijon mustard vinaigrette with capers is a great match for mild sausages and potatoes. You can serve the salad warm or cool. Instead of potatoes, you can make this salad with 3 or 4 cups cooked spiral pasta. Note: You will have extra vinaigrette; save it for green salads or add it to your next Israeli salad for a different flavor. 900 gr. fairly small round potatoes Salt and freshly ground pepper 3 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. Dijon mustard 1⁄4 cup plus 1 tsp. white wine vinegar 3⁄4 cup vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil 3 Tbsp. finely chopped rinsed drained capers 2 garlic cloves, minced 2 Tbsp. dry white wine 3 or 4 chicken or vegetarian frankfurters, cooked, cooled and sliced 1⁄4 cup chopped green onion 1⁄4 cup chopped parsley 8 to 12 romaine lettuce leaves, cut in bite size pieces (optional) Put potatoes in medium saucepan, cover with water and add salt. Bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer about 25 minutes or until tender enough so that knife pierces center of largest potato easily. Meanwhile, prepare dressing: Whisk mustard in a medium bowl with vinegar, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in oil. Stir in capers and garlic. Taste and adjust seasoning. Drain potatoes in colander and dice them or slice them in thick rounds. Put potatoes in large shallow bowl. Rewhisk vinaigrette until blended. Combine wine with 6 tablespoons vinaigrette and pour over potatoes. Toss or fold gently. Cool to room temperature. Add sausage slices, green onion and parsley to potatoes and mix gently. Whisk remaining vinaigrette and add more to salad if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning. If you like, serve salad mounded on a bed of lettuce. Makes 4 servings. GRILLED SAUSAGE AND PEPPER SANDWICH Use any kind of sausages you like; mild sausages or spicy North African merguez, beef or chicken frankfurters or meatless sausages all taste good with the grilled peppers and the paprika sautéed onions. Omit the cayenne pepper if you are using merguez. If you don't have time to grill the peppers, use roasted peppers from a jar. Instead of serving the sausage and peppers in a sandwich, you can slice the sausage, combine it with the vegetables and serve the mixture spooned over or mixed with cooked rice or pasta. 1 sweet red pepper 1 sweet green bell pepper 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 1 large onion, halved and sliced 1⁄2 to 1 tsp. sweet paprika pinch of hot paprika or cayenne pepper (optional) salt and freshly ground pepper 4 beef or chicken frankfurters, merguez or vegetarian sausages 4 good-quality long French rolls Dijon or other mustard (optional) Put peppers on broiler rack or on grill about 10 cm. from heat source. Broil or grill peppers, turning every 4 or 5 minutes with tongs, until pepper skin is blistered and charred, about 15 minutes total. Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly, or put in a bag and close bag. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel using paring knife. Discard top, seeds and ribs. Be careful; there may be hot liquid inside pepper. Drain well and pat dry. Cut in strips. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, sweet and hot paprika, salt and pepper. Sauté over medium heat, stirring often, for 7 to 10 minutes or until onions are tender and well browned. Remove from heat and add pepper strips. Broil or grill sausages according to package instructions, or until heated through and lightly browned; or, if you prefer, cook them in water. Warm rolls in oven or toast them lightly if desired. Split rolls in half. Spread with mustard. Top with sausages and with pepper onion mixture. Serve hot. Makes 4 servings. Faye Levy is the author of Feast from the Mideast.