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Eric Akis: Fresh sausages, local veggies make for a tasty, colourful summer supper

Grilled, Mediterranean-style sausages and vegetables are served with a zesty, vibrant green mayo for dolloping alongside them once plated.
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Local sausages, peppers and onions served with a zesty salsa verde mayo. ERIC AKIS

Some good sausages and a range of local vegetables can yield a colourful, very tasty summer supper. I know because that’s what I prepared for my family the other night and everyone around the table was delighted with the seasonal offerings set before them.

To make the meal, I grilled some wedges of green, red and yellow bell peppers and onions on my barbecue and then arranged them on a platter. The peppers and onions were then topped with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and a fresh herb, which could be oregano or basil.

I then grilled some fresh sausages, which could be Italian, Tuscan or chorizo, and when they were cooked I set them on the peppers and onions and that part of the meal was ready to serve.

I say that part of the meal, because I also served the sausages with other items, which included salsa verde mayo and heirloom tomato salad. Salsa verde is an Italian-style, herbaceous, piquant, green-hued sauce and my twist on it was to also blend mayonnaise into it. The salsa verde mayo, which can be prepared many hours in advance, was served as a condiment, for dolloping beside the sausages once plated.

Heirloom tomatoes are in season and you’ll find them at farm markets and some grocery stores specializing in local produce. There many varieties of them, such as brandy wine, Cherokee purple and oxheart, to name just a few. To make my salad, I cut a colourful mix of them into wedges, arranged them in a shallow dish and topped with crumbled feta cheese, chopped shallots and a few seasonings. It’s a pretty to look at, easy to make salad that paired very well with the sausages.

To round out the meal, you could also serve the sausages and tomato salad with some good bread, boiled or steamed miniature potatoes or, do what I did, and make pesto spaghettini. I didn’t include a recipe for it, because it’s easy to make. To do so, I boiled, drained and set some spaghettini in a bowl with a bit of its cooking liquid. The hot pasta was then tossed with a generous amount of pesto, creating another tasty side dish for the sausages.

As noted in a previous column, when buying those sausages, opt for quality, locally made ones. You’ll find them for sale at some local butcher shops, where they are crafted with care, right in house. You’ll also find them at some smaller food stores, who sell sausages made by local businesses, such as Metchosin’s Galloping Goose Sausage Company (gallopinggoosesausage.com), a favourite of mine.

Grilled Sausages, Peppers and Onions with Salsa Verde Mayo

Grilled, Mediterranean-style sausages and vegetables served with a zesty, vibrant green mayo for dolloping alongside them once plated.

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: 16 to 18 minutes

Makes: four servings

For the salsa verde

1/3 cup packed Italian (flat leaf) parsley leaves

1/3 cup packed cilantro leaves

1 large garlic clove, sliced

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp capers

2 anchovies or 2 tsp anchovy paste

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 cup mayonnaise

• pinch red pepper flakes

For sausages and vegetables

1 medium yellow bell pepper, halved, seeded and cut into 8 wedges

1 medium red bell pepper, halved, seeded and cut into 8 wedges

1 medium green bell pepper, halved, seeded and cut into 8 wedges

1 medium onion, cut into 8 wedges

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus some for the grill

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• fresh oregano leaves, or thinly sliced basil leaves, to taste

4 large (about 160 to 180 gram), or 8 small to medium (about 80 to 90 gram), fresh sausages, such as Italian, Tuscan or chorizo

To make salsa verde mayo, place its ingredient in a food processor and pulse until a blended, tangy green sauce is created. Transfer to a serving bowl or jar, cover and refrigerate until needed. It can be made many hours in advance.

Preheat a barbecue or indoor grill to medium-high. Brush the bars of the grill lightly with olive oil. Grill peppers and onions, in batches if needed, two or three minutes per side, or until nicely charred and just tender. Set the grilled vegetables on a serving platter. Drizzle with the 2 Tbsp olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper and the oregano leaves (or thinly sliced basil). Let the flavours of the peppers, onions and other ingredients meld together at room temperature while you cook the sausages.

To do that, set the sausages on the grill and cook about 12 minutes, turning them occasionally, or until entirely cooked through and the centre of each one reaches 160 F (71 C) when checked with an instant-read meat thermometer. Set the sausages on the peppers and onions, and serve with the salsa verde mayo.

Note: If you don’t have a barbecue or indoor grill, you could arrange the vegetables on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, brush them with a little olive oil, and then roast them until tender in a 375 F oven, about 25 to 30 minutes. Now set the vegetables on a serving platter and top as described in the recipe.

To cook the sausages in the oven, set a large ovenproof skillet over medium, medium-high. Pour in 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil. When oil is hot, add the sausages and sear until nicely browned on the underside, about three minutes. Turn sausages over and then set skillet in the oven. Roast the sausages 12 to 13 minutes, or until cooked.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

This simple summer salad sees wedges of ripe and flavourful heirloom tomatoes be accented with such things extra virgin olive oil, capers, tangy feta cheese and fresh herbs.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: none

Makes: four servings

3 large, or 4 medium, heirloom tomatoes (choose a mix of different coloured ones), cut into small wedges

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, or to taste

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 Tbsp capers

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese, or to taste

1 to 2 Tbsp chopped parsley, fresh oregano leaves, or thinly sliced basil leaves, or to taste

Arrange tomato wedges in a shallow serving bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Now top tomatoes with the capers, cheese and parsley (or oregano or basil). Let the salad’s flavours meld at room temperature 20 minutes or so, and then serve.

eakis@timescolonist.com

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.