Potato and Italian Sausage Salad

Potato and Italian Sausage Salad.

Potato and Italian Sausage Salad.

A fellow blogger that I’ve just begun following recently posted a winter potato salad that is different than most potato salads especially in that it contained sliced kielbasa sausage. While I’m happy to eat vegetarian dishes, this struck me as particularly satisfying to serve as a meal, so I considered what ingredients I had on hand and came up with this idea: potato and Italian sausage salad. My version is similarly of the season in that today is a cold, snowy New England day… the sort that dissuades you from running to the market for just the right ingredients.

For this salad, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • red potatoes, about 8 large, quartered or smaller (bite-sized)
  • Italian sausages, 3 sweet or hot, fresh (or uncooked from frozen)
  • yellow onion, 1 medium
  • baby spinach leaves, a few hands-full, fresh
  • Parmiagiano-Reggiano or other hard Italian cheese, cut into tiny pieces (about 1/4 inch cubes) or coarsely grated

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and, for the dressing:

  • mayonnaise
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • fennel seed
  • black pepper
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • oregano (sparingly to taste)
  • Dijon mustard
  • apple cider vinegar

My dressing had a generous amount of fennel seed, freshly ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
As usual, I didn’t measure my ingredients; if you need hints on quantities, consider this recipe.

Dressing base ingredients. (Red pepper flakes, Dijon mustard, diluted with apple-cider vinegar, not shown.)

Dressing base ingredients. (Red pepper flakes, Dijon mustard, diluted with apple-cider vinegar, not shown.)

I originally meant this to be a potato salad with Italian flavors, but punched it up with Dijon mayonnaise, that of course goes quite well with sausage and potato.

To prepare:

Start by steaming the quartered potato; cook until tender. Meanwhile, cook the sausages. Mine were frozen, so I start by boiling them then, after cooked thoroughly (in a skillet of just-boiling water, over medium low heat, perhaps 20 minutes), poor out the water and brown them.

Boiling fresh Italian sausage and steaming red potato.

Boiling fresh Italian sausage and steaming red potato.

For uncooked sausages that are not frozen, you can also brown them first in a skillet, then boil them to cook through afterwards. (This latter method has the advantage of not risking the separation of fat in the casing, that sometimes results in the casing breaking and spewing hot fat all over.)

While browning the sausages in a pan, add the sliced onion and brown it as well.

Browning onions and cooked Italian sausage.

Browning onions and cooked Italian sausage.

When the potatoes are tender, remove from heat, but add the spinach to the steamer basket (and cover) to lightly steam the spinach.

Once all these ingredients are done, let them sit perhaps an hour to cool to approximately room temperature. This is a good time to prepare the dressing in which you’ll toss the aforementioned prepared ingredients.

Whisk the dressing ingredients in a large bowl to taste, to yield approximately 1/3 cup total; you might wish to use some water to dilute it to a consistency suitable for tossing.

A salad dressing of mayonnaise, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fennel seed, freshly-ground black pepper.

A salad dressing of mayonnaise, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fennel seed, freshly-ground black pepper.

Once cooled, toss the cooked ingredients and cheese in the dressing. I used a bowl scraper to turn and distribute the dressing ingredients.

Ready to toss the ingredients with the dressing.

Ready to toss the ingredients with the dressing.

Lastly, refrigerate the salad for a number of hours, tossing occasionally to redistribute the ingredients and dressing; also, taste test it and, if desired, add more diluted mustard, black pepper, and/or red pepper flakes. Letting the salad sit for a time also allows the fennel seeds and had Italian cheese to soften slightly before serving.

I removed this salad from the refrigerator for an hour or so and served it at about temperature for dinner.
It’s an unusual “meat and potatoes” meal, but perfectly satisfying all on its own!

Potato and Italian sausage salad.

Potato and Italian sausage salad.

Here are some recipes you might like; the first inspired me here and the other is a favorite from Mark Bittman:

Thanks for the inspirational recipe, Mimi! :)

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Gua Bao with Five Spice Pork Ribs

Gua bau with five spice ribs and pickled vegetables.

Gua bau with five spice ribs and pickled vegetables.

One of my long-time favorite Chinese treats is cha siu bau: the tasty steamed buns filled with delicious char siu-barbecued pork that is common at dim sum meals.

The Taiwanese gua bao is a similar street food in which the ingredients are inserted in a folded bao after the flat bun is steamed; gua bao have become popular restaurant items in North America lately; for instance, I ordered them at Bahn Mi Boys in Toronto, where they offer a variety of fusion bao fillings.

For our version, we decided to prepare the steamed bao from scratch and dry-rubbed pork ribs and Chinese pickled vegetables for fillings.  As one friend said, ribs in the oven are pretty much “set it and forget it.” Along with the requisite time for pickled vegetables to take on the pickling flavors, there’s plenty of time to dabble in making steamed buns from scratch.

Dry rub ingredients.

Dry rub ingredients (salt and black pepper not shown).

Our sweet and spicy dry rub, inspired by Chinese five spice powder, consisted of: ground clove, cinnamon, whole star anise, fennel seed, dried chili peppers, along with dry rub staples: brown sugar, freshly ground pepper, and kosher salt to taste.  All these ingredients were ground together with a mortar and pestle until most of the ingredients were crushed finely, yielding about 1/3 cup of dry rub seasoning.

Dry rub ready to apply to ribs.

Dry rub ready to apply to ribs.

I used a colander to apply the dry rub evenly (and without large pieces that might be left from the dried chili peppers or star anise), half to each side of a rack of pork ribs, and placed it concave-side down on a foil-covered baking sheet in a 225° F oven for 2 hours, then lowered to 200° F for another 2 hours, (4 hours total) checking and turning occasionally.  (If need be, satisfactory results can be gotten in about 3 hours at 250-275° F.)

Ribs in the oven.

Ribs in the oven.

Next we prepared some Chinese pickled vegetables: matchstick carrot, sliced red onion, sliced cucumber, along with a sliced fresh serrano pepper and some pieces fresh ginger. These were soaked in a brine consisting of approximately half rice vinegar and half water, further flavored with some soy sauce, star anise, sugar, whole black peppercorns and a bit of sake.

Vegetables for pickling.

Vegetables for pickling.

The pickled vegetables where refrigerated for a few hours before use.

Pickled vegetables prepared as a condiment for gua bao.

Pickled vegetables: a condiment for gua bao.

Next, we prepared the dough for the steamed bao.  (My partner is the bread maker; see the sample recipes she provided linked below for details.)

Dough ingredients for steamed bao.

Dough ingredients for steamed bao.

Prepare dough for steamed bao.

Prepare dough for steamed bao.

Preparing bao for steaming.

Preparing bao for steaming.

Rolling out dough for steamed bao.

Rolling out dough for steamed bao.

Once rolled-out, the dough pieces were steamed atop cabbage leaves (to prevent sticking), some flat and some folded over, with a bit of oil on the top to prevent the folded ones from sticking closed.  We found steaming them (covered) about 10 minutes to be sufficient.

Steaming bao.

Steaming bao.

Once the rib rack was cooked, it was cut into individual ribs, with some served as-is and some having the meat stripped from the bone to top or fill the steamed bao with a bit of hoisin sauce and accompanied by a condiment of pickled vegetables.

Slicing ribs.

Slicing ribs.

Gua bao with five spice pork ribs and pickled vegetables.

Gua bao with five spice pork ribs, a dab of hoisin sauce, and a variety of pickled vegetables.

Both the five spice ribs and gua bao were delicious and we enjoyed making this asian treat from scratch.
The ribs and steamed bao reheat well in the microwave for some quick and easy subsequent meals.

Here are some related recipes that you might helpful if you decide to make gua bao yourself!
Enjoy!

Indian Omelette Breakfast Burrito

Indian omelette breakfast burrito served with curry salsa.

Indian omelette breakfast burrito served with curry salsa.

Yesterday, an Indian friend said this Indian Omelet recipe “looks legit,” so I decided to try it; the Indian omelette reminds me of the Chinese omelette, egg foo young, and is prepared quite similarly just with different spices and a lot less oil.

For my version of this omelette (2 servings), I used the following ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup minced red onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped napa cabbage
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh mushroom
  • fresh coriander leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder (to taste)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • canola oil (1-2 tablespoons)

(I reduced the turmeric quite a bit from the original recipe because I’ve found that if I don’t cook it in oil in the pan first, it can taste metallic to me.)

To prepare:

As with any omelette beat the eggs, I added a bit of water.  Next whisk in all the other ingredients (except the oil for frying). Over medium heat add the oil to an omelette or other non-stick frying pan. When oil is hot, but not smoking, be sure it’s spread evenly over the pan surface and add the egg mixture, spreading it evenly. Cover immediately with a pan lid or serving plate, and cook for a few minutes, checking to see that it is solidifying, but not yet cooked through. (Expect the bottom to brown in the oil.) Before the egg is completely cooked on top, slide the omelette onto a plate that is larger than the pan, then place the pan upside-down over the plate and flip it over so that the omelette is back in the pan. Cook this other side for a minute or so and slide it onto a serving plate; garnish with cilantro leaf.

An Indian omelette topped with coriander leaf.

An Indian omelette topped with coriander leaf.

Despite all the ingredients and spices, I found my omelette uninteresting on its own (and I’m not really a fan of breakfasts dominated by egg), so as I’ve done before, I chopped the omelette into large pieces and used it to fill a large, warmed flour tortilla as a breakfast burrito.

As an additional burrito filling and flavorful accompaniment, I prepared a hot curry salsa by stirring about 1/2 teaspoon of Indian curry paste into about 1/4 cup tomato-based Mexican salsa.

Mixing up a curry salsa.

Mixing up a curry salsa.

I used less than half the omelette for the burrito and served it with additional hot curry salsa on the side.

An Indian omelette and breakfast burrito.

An Indian omelette and breakfast burrito.

This was a nice Indian-fusion variation of the wonderful Tex-Mex breakfast burrito. Another way to make it more Indian would be to use chappati instead of a mexican-style tortilla. I was first introduced to the frozen variety of chappati by an Indian housemate; they’re quite good, you just take them from the freezer right into the fry pan for a few minutes, but the frozen ones are smaller than burrito-sized tortillas, so would make for tiny burritos.

The Indian omelette is yet-another way to put some variety into your breakfasts of vegetables and eggs!

Here is the recipe I used as the basis for this omelette:

And some related recipes:

UPDATE (Feb. 2015):

I made an “egg roll,” (nothing like a Chinese egg roll) as in this video, with scallion, black pepper, scrambled egg, and a tortilla and that works out great too and is yet-another breakfast burrito variation!