It has been raining like, well, April, for the past two weeks. My daughter and I been spending most of our days gazing forlornly at the playground outside our building, watching it drip with water, little rivers cascading down the shiny metal slide and into the sand pit. However, despite the incessant pitter patter of raindrops on the windowsill, I can't bring myself to get down about all the wetness given the horrible winter we had. After all, spring rain brings with it promises of a new, fresh warm-weather season. A time when we can skip outside with our brand new tricycle and spring-weight knit poncho from grandma, minus the heavy parkas and fleece hats. And, perhaps most importantly for me, spring means that summer, with all of it's fresh farm food, is right around the corner.
I am dedicated farmer's market shopper and will happily brave all kinds of weather to patronize the farm stands. As I write summer crops are just starting to grow in the fields, the bounty of which we won't see at the market for another few weeks. However, despite having to wait a bit longer for the wonderful fresh corn and spring asparagus, there are still many reasons for me to shop there. In the months prior to the summer foods a small, but dedicated, group of farmers will trudge over to 97th street on Fridays to offer a smattering of root vegetables, a few bushels of apples and lots of delicious hot cider. In addition to this the fish monger from Long Island reliably brings freshly caught fish and shellfish, and I can always count on Ronnybrook for fresh milk and butter. But, above all, my favorite stand these days is the pork purveyor. I read somewhere lately that "pig is big," and in our house it is more than ever.
Last week my daughter and I braved the puddles to obtain our favorite bundle of fresh, sweet sausages. Both of us love visiting this stand, I obtain my amazing homemade organic pork sausages, and my daughter is always, very generously, given a free freshly cooked slice of breakfast sausage. Don't ask me why this is the favorite food of my toddler, but it is. Once the sausages have been obtained we happily wheel home, dreaming of dinners to come. I discovered this pork purveyor about a year ago and have been cooking these sausages weekly ever since. I have to say, I have come up with some great sausage dishes, but the one I want to tell you about today is, perhaps, my most favorite. The preparation, roasted in a pan with red grapes and onions, is simple and straightforward, perfect for Naptime Chef-ing.
I know this is not the first time sausage has been prepared like this, there are many variations of roasted sausages with grapes, but after some tweaking I developed a recipe for my family that we can call our very own. In my opinion the best part about this dish is how the simplest ingredients yield the most amazing flavor, the whole being greater than the sum of it's parts. To prepare it, during naptime, I simply prep the grapes and onions as instructed and put the pan in fridge where it can easily stay for a few hours while I attend to other things. Then, when it comes time for dinner, I simply pre-cook the sausages and lay them on top of the grapes and onions, and pop it in the oven. In no time I have gorgeous fresh roasted sausages on a bed of juicy grapes draped with wilting onions. It takes about five more minutes to prepare the sauce and, voila, dinner is served. I like to serve this dish with a green salad and a slice of french bread, or, when we are in the mood for heavier fare, I serve it with egg noodles or potatoes.
This flavor of this dish is a pitch perfect balance of savory and sweet. The sweetness comes from the red grape juice which is balanced well with the tart onions and dash of balsamic vinegar. I love the way the flavor of the grapes are somehow enhanced by the roasting, it is an unexpected yet delicious way to enjoy fruit. I am such a creature of habit that if it weren't for this blog there is a good chance this is the only way I'd prepare sausage ever again. It is an even greater reward for me that my daughter likes this dish, too. The roasted grapes are soft and juicy which are perfect for her little mouth, she likes to eat them with handfuls of the crumbled sausage. I am still excited for the summer offerings to hit the farmer's market in full force, I am already thumbing through my favorite summer recipes trying to decide what to make first. But, until then, I will continue my trips through the rain to my Friday market, I am already dreaming about what I'll make with my sausages tomorrow night.
Naptime Roasted Sausage with Grapes and Onion - inspired by the farmer's market
4 links homemade sweet pork sausage (I have used chicken sausage in a pinch, as well)
3/4 - 1lb seedless organic red grapes
1 red onion, preferbly organic, finely sliced
2 T. olive oil
1 T. balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 475.
2. Cook the sausages in a skillet until cooked through. Do not wash skillet, you will use it later.
3. Wash and dry the grapes, toss them with the olive oil and place them in a 13x9 pan so that they fully cover the bottom in one layer.
4. Finely slice the red onion and scatter it among the grapes in the pan.
5. Lay the sausages on top of the grapes and onions.
6. Roast at 475 for 20-25 minutes, turning sausages once halfway through.
7. After roasting remove sausages and put them on serving plates.
8. Pour grapes and onions back into the skillet that the sausage was cooked in. Stir the grapes and onions until the juices start to thicken up and get syrupy. Add a dash of salt and pepper to taste.
9. When the grape juices are syrupy add the balsamic vinegar and give it a swirl to incorporate, pour the mixture over the sausages and serve.
Naptime Recipe Props: The beauty of this recipe is the ease of the preparation. It is almost impossible to screw up. Feel free to experiment with additional seasonings as well, some people like to use rosemary in their sausage preparation and I think other herbs might taste good, too. Also, I have used chicken sausage before and the dish still tastes delicious.
Naptime Stopwatch: The prep time for this recipe is about 10 minutes, then the roasting time is about 25. The sauce is simple as well, so you can easily have dinner on the table in about 45 minutes. But, it is less if you take the time to prepare your pan of grapes and onions ahead of time.
Naptime Reviews: This is a family favorite for many reasons, not the least of which is the salty sweet taste. It is not too strong for a toddler's palate, but is complex enough for an adult.