Eric Akis: Sausage buns, dressed up for summer

Eric Akis

Grilling and serving sausages in buns can yield a casual, but very satisfying summer supper. That’s especially true if you dress those sausages up with tasty Southern European-style toppings.

I know because I did that the other night and began the process by making salsa verde. It’s an Italian-style, piquant, full-flavoured, green-hued sauce made by chopping herbs, capers, garlic and anchovies, and mixing them with olive oil and seasonings.

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Step two was to grill the sausages, which could be fresh Italian sausages. But, as you’ll note in my recipe, other southern European-style sausages will also work, such as fresh chorizo sausages or loukaniko sausages. The latter is a Greek-style sausage that’s made from pork and/or lamb flavoured with such things as oregano, orange and Retsina wine.

While the sausages are grilling, you char some sliced bell peppers and onions in a hot skillet on the stovetop or side burner of your barbecue.

When everything is cooked, you set the sausages in buns spread with a little mayonnaise for added richness. The sausages are then topped with the peppers and onions, salsa verde and some nuggets of soft, tangy goat cheese, creating quite a wonderful combination of tastes. To round out the meal, you could serve the sausages with a green, caesar or baby arugula salad.

When buying sausages for the recipe, opt for fine quality, locally made ones — the type of sausage whose filling does not look homogenized, where you can actually see some of the ingredients used in them, right through the casing.

You’ll find them for sale at many 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), one of my favourites.

Sausage on a Bun with Salsa Verde, Peppers and Onions

These grilled sausages are served in buns, topped with zesty salsa verde, charred peppers and onions, and tangy bits of goat cheese.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 12 minutes

Makes: four servings

4 (about 90 gram each) fresh Italian, chorizo or loukaniko sausages

1 Tbsp olive oil, plus some for the grill

1/2 medium onion, sliced

1/2 medium green bell pepper, seeded and sliced

1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and sliced

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 hot dog buns, split

• mayonnaise, to taste (optional)

• salsa verde, to taste (see recipe below and Eric’s options)

50 grams soft goat cheese, broken into small nuggets

Preheat your barbecue to medium-high (about 375 F in the chamber). Lightly oil the bars of the grill. Grill the sausages 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.

While the sausages cook, heat the 1 Tbsp oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat. When oil is very hot, add the onion and bell peppers, season with salt and pepper, and cook and stir until lightly charred and tender, about four minutes. Remove skillet from the heat.

Spread the inside of each bun with mayonnaise, if using. Now set a sausage in each bun, top with peppers and onions, salsa verde and goat cheese, and serve.

Eric’s options: If you don’t have a barbecue or indoor grill, you could sear and roast the sausages instead. To do so, preheat oven 375 F. Place 1 Tbsp olive oil in an ovenproof skillet set over medium, medium-high heat. Add the sausages and brown them two to three minutes per side. Set the pan in the oven and roast sausages about 10 to 12 minutes, or until cooked through. If desired, instead of salsa verde, you could top the sausages with another style of green sauce, such as pesto.

Salsa Verde

Here’s a piquant, Italian-style sauce to spoon over grilled sausages served in buns.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: None

Makes: about 2/3 cup

1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano or parsley

2 Tbsp capers, finely chopped

2 anchovy fillets, minced, or 1 tsp anchovy paste

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp red wine vinegar

• pinch red pepper flakes

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine oregano (or parsley), capers, anchovy, garlic, mustard, vinegar and pepper flakes in a bowl. Slowly mix in the 1/4 cup olive oil, adding a bit more if you would like the salsa verde to be a bit thinner. Season the salsa verde with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate salsa verde until needed. It can be made many hours in advance. Let the salsa verde warm at room temperature 30 minutes before serving, stirring it before you do.

eakis@timescolonist.com

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

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