Quick Meal Tip: Keep Sausages on Hand for an Instant Flavor Boost

Like many people I occasionally (often?) find myself faced with the classic dinner dilemma: It is 6:00pm, I'm hungry, and I haven't even begun to plan dinner. How can I get something on the table relatively fast without a lot of fuss and bother? My secret weapon in these moments is to reach for a favorite ingredient — sausage!

Sausages are a great thing to have stashed in your refrigerator/freezer for many reasons.

But before we go into them, I first want to put in a plug for finding quality sausages. Many typical supermarket sausages are loaded with unnecessary fat, salt, and preservatives and are best to be avoided. They are the stuff of nightmares. Be sure to check the labels if you are concerned about this, or better yet, seek out homemade sausages from your local butcher. Here in the Bay Area I enjoy Fra'Mani and Bruce Aidells from the supermarket and the amazing and delicious sausage offerings from Berkeley's The Local Butcher Shop. I often buy more than I need in order to keep a stash in the freezer.

The primary reason why sausages are so great is that they add an immediate hit of salt, fat and spice to your dish. Depending on what kind you buy, you can also add some heat. (Chorizo!) A good sausage crumbled into a jarred tomato sauce, for instance, will add great flavor and texture. You can also add it to canned soups, noodle and rice bowls, and other quick and convenient foods. But here again, be careful of the high fat and sodium already present in many convenience foods.

I prefer to use sausage to help me create quick, from scratch dinners. Sausage is great in frittatas and scrapple-like egg dishes or added to beans that have been sautéed with onions and peppers. In fact, sausage has a great affinity with all beans and especially with legumes like lentils. Pop a few sausages in the oven, boil up some potatoes or rutabagas and you have the classic British favorite bangers and mash. Sausage is also great with hearty greens like kale and can be added to most soups, especially brothy vegetable-based ones.

Sausage baked with sweet potatoes make a nice, hearty dinner. Or crumble it into pasta dishes made with cauliflower or kale and sprinkle with breadcrumbs, or toss it with leftover rice and scallions and top with a fried egg. The list is really endless.

What is your favorite way to use sausage for a quick, delicious dinner?

Related: Recipe: 3-Sausage Pasta Sauce

(Image: Fra'Mani)

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