Beanz Meanz Snagz!

This dish of pork sausages with Brussels sprouts and cannellini beans in a hot balsamic vinaigrette was a really simple midweek dinner that I chucked together the other night, and that I didn’t think was particularly impressive. However, the photo got a lot of likes on Twitter and Instagram, and (perhaps more importantly) it was especially delicious, and really felt rather fancy. I realise that it actually was impressive; it just wasn’t complicated. I’m looking forward to making this again for Adrian, but in the meantime, I’ll share here how I made it so that you can enjoy it too!

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 6 nice fat pork sausages (you can use beef or chicken sausages if you don’t eat pork, or plant-based sausages if you don’t eat meat at all)
  • 250 g Brussels sprouts, washed (and trimmed if necessary)
  • 400 g can of cannellini beans (white beans, haricot beans etc), drained and, if you can be bothered, rinsed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin, unless it’s all you have)
  • 1 – 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

What to do

Preheat the oven to 220C (200C if you have a fan oven, gas mark 7 if you have a gas oven, 425F if you live in America, which I don’t recommend, but I’m aware some of you have little choice in the matter).

Start with the balsamic vinaigrette. In a bowl, dissolve the salt in the vinegar, along with the black pepper and herbs (they won’t dissolve, but chuck ’em in now anyway), before whisking in the olive oil to form an emulsion. Tip in the beans and the sprouts and toss them until everything is nicely coated with the oil and vinegar emulsion.

Then tumble that mixture into a baking pan (mine is about 24 cm square, but the size isn’t that important), and spread it so that it’s more or less a single layer, and sit the sausages on top before putting it in the preheated oven to bake for 35 minutes.

Then, well, eat it!

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Last night we had a pretty simple dinner: some rump steak with vegetables and potatoes. But I think even with simple fayre, it’s important for it to be delicious, and so I dressed the stir-fried sprouts in a hot balsamic vinaigrette. They were very excellent. Here’s how I did it.

Serves 2

Ingredients

150 g Brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon rice bran oil
2 pudding spoons olive oil
3 pudding spoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and black pepper

Begin by bringing a pot of water to the boil and adding some salt. While waiting for the water to boil, slice the sprouts in half lengthways, then add them to the water and boil for four minutes (you could steam them for four minutes instead, but I used the same water to parboil potatoes, so it made more sense to boil them).

While the sprouts are boiling, whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a good pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper until you have an emulsion. Don’t stress about how emulsified it is: you’ll have to whisk it again anyway. Then set a wok of an appropriate size over a high heat (if you don’t know what an appropriate size is, I’m going to assume you only have one wok, so use that one. If you don’t have a wok, you can use a big frying pan).

Once the sprouts have had their four minutes, drain then and let all the steam come off them. You want them reasonably dry. Then heat the rice bran oil (or any oil you have really) in the wok, and add the sprouts. Stir fry them for about two or three minutes or until they start to go a bit black (but stop before they turn to charcoal), and then pour in the vinaigrette (after giving it a final quick whisk). Continue to toss the sprouts about until the vinaigrette has bubbled and reduced and turned a bit syrupy. Add some more salt and pepper if it needs it, then tip the whole lot out onto a warmed serving plate, and serve immediately.