Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Italian sausage works nicely in warm fall salad

When crumbled mild Italian sausage is used in a dish, it practically guarantees its deliciousness.
   My husband and I discovered this a few years back when we made Oriecchette with Fennel, Sausage & Tomatoes, the best pasta dish we have ever eaten.
   When I saw the recipe for Warm Lentil Salad with Sausage & Apple (click for the recipe) in Eating Well magazine, I was immediately drawn to it, hoping Italian sausage was an ingredient contained within it.
   The recipe calls for sweet turkey sausage, and Italian sausage is made from pork, but it didn’t matter to me anyway. I wanted to use mild or sweet Italian sausage, because a) I thought it would taste great in the dish, and b) I had a package of it in the freezer.
   I was right about Italian sausage working in this dinner-size salad. It worked wonderfully, in fact, because it is flavored with anise, which blends nicely with the other ingredients of fennel, apple and celery.
   The recipe calls for sausage with the casings removed, but you can buy uncased, bulk Italian sausage just as you would ground beef. (Hot sausage, rather than sweet, can also be used in the dish.)
   The dish is very easy to make, and is a fine choice for a weeknight.
   Olive oil, red-wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper are whisked together to make a dressing.
   The crumbled sausage is browned in a skillet, then minced garlic and lentils are added and heated through. Some of the red-wine vinegar dressing is added, and the skillet is removed from the heat. Finely-diced fennel, Granny Smith apple and celery are stirred in.
   Six cups of arugula or mesclun greens (we used mesclun greens, sometimes labeled “spring mix” or “baby greens) are tossed with the remaining dressing.
   A thin layer of greens is placed on plate, and the warm lentil-sausage mixture is served on top.

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