Sausage & bean winter casserole

It’s supposed to be spring but it’s still absolutely freezing outside so I’m resorting to cooking casseroles to keep me warm. From a food waste perspective casseroles are an absolute dream; it’s a dish that you can produce by mixing the simplest ingredients together and turn into something tasty by throwing in a few store cupboard essentials such as stock cubes, tomato sauce or Worcester sauce.

The humble sausage is the main basis for this meal, a cheap and tasty ingredient that can be used to create a hearty protein filled evening meal. A lot of the other ingredients in this recipe were from my freezer, I needed to empty my freezer as I was moving house and this recipe enabled me to use up loads of fresh ingredients that I’d previously frozen. You can find tips on freezing fresh items here and I promise that I will do a follow up blog post soon with further tips.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 x sausages cut into 2.5cm chunks
  • 400g pinto beans
  • 2 x sticks celery roughly chopped
  • 2 x carrots sliced
  • 1 x onion thinly sliced
  • 1 x parsnip diced
  • 8 x mushrooms cut into quarters
  • 16 x cherry tomatoes (optional)
  • 3 x cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 x red chilli finely sliced
  • 1 x tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp paprika
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 100ml white wine
  • 1tbsp mixed herbs
  • 1 x bay leaf
  • Dash of Worcester sauce

METHOD

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat.

Fry the sausages for approximately 4 minutes or until browned, remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion and celery to the pan and cook until the onions start to soften.

Add the crushed garlic and sliced red chilli and cook for 1 minute before adding the paprika, stir well so that all the ingredients are covered in the spice and cook for a further minute.

Add the white wine or a splash of stock to the pot and scrape the pan with a wooden spoon, turn up the heat and bring the casserole to the boil, continue to cook until the liquid has reduced by half.

Add all the remaining vegetables to the pan, bring back to the boil and cook for 3 minutes before returning the sausages to the pan.

If using, add the cherry tomatoes to the pan along with the stock, Worcester sauce and seasoning. Bring to the boil before reducing to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 40 minutes, adding more stock if needed.

Finally remove the lid, add the pinto beans and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, serve with crusty bread.

TIPS

If you prefer a thicker sauce add a tbsp of flour towards the end, or more if required.

Substitute the vegetables for any others that you need to use up.

Sausage, Chilli & Tomato Pasta

This week I’m home alone; when I’m home alone I never want to spend much time cooking so I prefer to make a couple of dishes that will serve me over multiple meal times.

I’ve had a rather extravagant January and with the Christmas costs still hanging over me, I’m determined to have an economising month. My mission during February is to literally empty the cupboards and freezer and buy as little as possible from the supermarket.

Last week I’d frozen some leftover tinned tomatoes and some fresh red chillies; also lurking in the bottom of my freezer were some pigs in blankets that I hadn’t used up over Christmas. I couldn’t think of a use for the pigs in blankets other than on the side of a roast, but I figured that they’re just sausages and bacon so why not use them up just as I would normal sausages.

Pasta’s great for using up leftovers, it’s amazing what you can do with tinned tomatoes and a few veggies, there’s no need to buy expensive jars of pasta sauce. As I was using up ingredients I had in the freezer and cupboard I didn’t have to visit the shop for this recipe as there was also a half eaten onion lurking in my fridge.

And this is how the ingredients below, provided me with couple of dinners and a lunch for the week (there would have been 4 portions but I didn’t have quite enough pasta in) meaning that I didn’t have to slave in the kitchen every night after work.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 6 Sausages (I used pigs in blankets as a substitute)
  • 200g Tinned Tomatoes
  • 200-300g Pasta (50-75g a portion)
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 1 Red Chilli (or pinch of dried chilli flakes)
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Dash White Wine (optional)
  • Parmesan to top (optional)

METHOD

Heat oil in large frying pan and fry chopped onions and garlic for 3-4 minutes until soft

Add sausages and fry for 5-6 minutes until browned

Add dash of white wine (water or stock will do if you don’t have wine) and scrape the bottom of the pan (this step will add additional flavour to the sauce). Boil over a high heat for a few minutes, until the liquid has reduced by a third.

Add in the tinned tomatoes and chopped red chilli, bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes or until the sausages are cooked through.

Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the instructions. Once cooked and drained, combine with the sausage mixture and top with grated cheese if desired.

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TIPS

Note I used frozen fresh red chillies for this recipe; I’ve found the best way to freeze chillies is to chop before freezing. I’ve frozen chillies whole before but they tend to retain too much water when defrosted.

The dash of white wine I used was also frozen. If you have a few dregs of wine remaining (sacrilege), freeze in ice cube trays and these can then be used for cooking, as recipes require.

Leftover pasta is a great thing to pack in some Tupperware and take for lunch; it’s also suitable for freezing if you don’t want to eat all the portions in the same week. (Homemade ready meals).