A classic go-to supper full of pantry goodies
Dishes become classics for a reason, and this one really is a classic for all the right reasons... tasty tomatoes (tick), filling beans (tick), perfect sausages (tick)... I could go on, but I recommend you try it for yourself. What's more - it's not a long slow cook of a dish either, start to finish about an hour and that includes time away from the hob... so go for it!
4-6 really good quality sausages (I used nutmeg and black pepper from Waitrose)
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Slosh of passata (optional)
1 tin cannellini beans
1 tin broad beans
Handful of basil leaves and stalks, roughly chopped
Oven at 200C (standard).
I can't emphasise enough your bang to buck ratio on this - and for buck I mean money and also effort. I have a theory on life that any sport or hobby should have an appropriate 'faff to fun' ratio (ie riding and sailing are out for me as they involve far too much faff for the small amount of fun you have, unless you're super-rich and have stable hands and bosuns on speed dial). Anyway, this dish is the equivalent of going to the cinema, say. It takes hardly any effort for a whole lot of entertainment (and in this case, yumminess).
Start by popping your sausages in the oven. I find they need about 40-45 mins to get a really good colour on them. You'll note that I don't 'cook' them in the sauce we're about to make, that's because I prefer them brown and nicely crispy on the outside and I find sausages cooked solely in sauce often look a bit anaemic and not so appetising. Then chop an onion relatively finely, but it's a rustic dish so don't sweat it... ha ha but that's exactly what you'll do next, sweat it in some olive oil until it starts to get translucent. Add the garlic for a minute or two, then add to it the tin of chopped tomatoes and swill the tin out with about half as much water. I had some passata (about 100ml) in the fridge so I added that too and swilled the bottle with some extra water. Basically, what you're trying to do is give the sauce enough liquid so that it can simmer away creating lovely rich flavours, without drying out.
Add your beans to the sauce. I used a tin each of cannellini and broad - real pantry staples (along with the tomatoes - see, real Larderthenlife ethos here kids). But you can experiment and try using butter beans, black-eyed etc... even lentils. Just make sure they're pre-cooked and don't need hours to soften up. At this point also add in your basil and then stir it all around and let it simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes as your sausages cook.
Season your sauce well and give it a stir every now and again to make sure it doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan. Once the sausages are done, and the sauce has reduced a bit from the water you added at the start, make a space for the sausages and pop them in. I like using this old shallow Le Creuset dish as I can then easily pop the lid on and put the whole thing in the still hot and on oven for another 10 mins or so.
And that's it. You're done. Oh, ok, get some frozen peas on the boil or something to go with, but otherwise you have in that one pan your protein, your filling-up-ish-ness and your tastiness.
You could very easily do this with other beans (as discussed) or lentils, or you could replace the sausages with meatballs (even Swedish ones if you've been to Ikea recently). Otherwise there's not much need to tamper, except that it's easy enough to play around with this dish to suit you - add chilli, or cream, or grate some cheese - it's up to you.
Hard to credit as sausage casserole has been a family favourite of ours for a while. So I'm taking credit for this particular recipe.
There's something autumnal about spearing a sausage with a fork, ripping a bite off with your teeth, quick chew, swallow, and then swig of Cote du Rhone rouge. I like this one from Boutinot. But hey, any red wine would be a real winner with this dish.