I love roasted veggies — slightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside with a few dark and chewy edges. Roasting intensifies the flavors of vegetables and causes their natural sugars to caramelize. I don’t cook vegetables this way every time (I’m also a fan of steaming and sauteing) but when I do, I’m glad I went to the effort.
Roasting works especially well with what we think of as autumn vegetables: sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and parsnips. But I think an autumn vegetable should be any vegetable that we eat in the fall. Let’s roast them all! Add red potatoes, onions and vibrant, dark-red beets. Cut them up into bite-size chunks, toss them in a bit of olive oil and salt, spread them on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven for 45 minutes or an hour. The colors and flavors are deeply pleasing.
This roasted vegetable medley is a meal in itself if you’re looking for an easy, satisfying vegetarian entrée. If you crave something meatier, allow your roving carnivorous eyes to rest upon the humble sausage. This meaty treat was likely devised by clever Sumerians about 5,000 years ago as an ingenious way to make offal — the not-so-appealing entrails and organs of a slaughtered animal — seem palatable and even tasty. It was such a great idea that to this day, we still take random innards, meat scraps, blood and fat, grind them up with salt and spices and then shove them into intestinal lining. Voila! Dinner.
For this recipe, I really wanted to roast a kielbasa (also called Polish sausage) with an assortment of vegetables. We don’t eat kielbasa too often. But once or twice a year I get a craving for this giant of the sausage world, which weighs in at a hefty 1½ pounds. So I set off for the grocery store where — alas and alack! — they were sold out of kielbasa. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with a colossal kielbasa craving.
Instead, I bought a package of five chunky bangers, a British-style sausage traditionally made with pork and mild-mannered herbs and spices like thyme, sage, black pepper and nutmeg. My British husband doesn’t like pork, but he’ll somehow happily eat a banger, especially if it’s served with mashed potatoes, a combination affectionately known as bangers and mash.
I got out my biggest roasting pan and cut the following into rustic chunks: two medium carrots, a large parsnip, eight fresh Brussels sprouts, half an onion, a large red potato, a small sweet potato and a medium red beet. I put them all in a big bowl and then decided to go a step further and create a sweet-savory glaze. In a small bowl, I mixed 1/3 cup mustard and 1/3 cup loosely packed brown sugar with 1/3 cup soy sauce, ¼ teaspoon paprika, ¼ teaspoon curry powder and somewhere between ¼ and ½ teaspoon salt.
When the veggies were thoroughly coated with sauce, I spread them onto my largest baking pan and nestled the five big sausages in with the vegetables. I popped everything into the oven and then I went to do other things. Unfortunately, I forgot to set the timer, so I’m not entirely sure how long they were in the oven. An hour? An hour and a half? By the time the tantalizing smell of roasting vegetables and meat drew me into the kitchen, the meal was very well done indeed. It wasn’t burnt, exactly, but the vegetables had lost a bit of their vibrancy. Nevertheless, the mustard-brown sugar glaze kept the veggies tender, and the sausage was still nice and juicy. Even experienced cooks, I surmised, get absorbed in other tasks and leave dinner in the oven too long. I’m sure it’s because I have so many very important things to think about, like where I put my reading glasses and why my cat loves to gnaw on houseplants. (Don’t worry, we got rid of most of the toxic ones.)
In the end, the slight overcooking did no real harm to the sausage-and-veggie bake. My husband scarfed the vegetables down appreciatively and was very excited about the meal’s sausage element. It seemed like a rich reward for such minimal effort on my part. I love it when I fool him into thinking I’ve spent hours laboring in the kitchen.
The next day, he took the leftovers in to the office and took great pleasure in making his workmates jealous of his rich lunchtime bounty. (In fact, the veggies do taste even better the next day after absorbing the glaze overnight in the refrigerator.)
If you don’t like the mix of vegetables I used, then make your own mix. If you just like potatoes and none of the rest, that’s fine. Not everyone likes sweet potatoes and beets. I think we can all agree that Brussel sprouts are an acquired taste. And if you can’t find (or don’t like) British bangers, use kielbasa, bratwurst or another big sausage. Any combination you come up with will be delicious because it will be just how you like it.
While you’re eating your one-pan dinner with savory sausage, colorful fall vegetables and tangy glaze, I’d like you to think about the following story:
A young man went to the seaside, where he bought a big, beautifully roasted sausage. A bird came along and stole the sausage right out of his hands. It was a tern for the wurst.
Pan-Roasted Sausage and Autumn Vegetables with Brown Sugar-Mustard Glaze
1 package of five to six British-style bangers (available at most grocery stores) or substitute 1 kielbasa
2 medium carrots
1 large parsnip
8-10 fresh Brussels sprouts
½ medium onion
1 large red potato
1 small sweet potato
1 medium red beet
⅓ cup mustard
⅓ cup brown sugar
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon curry powder
¼-½ teaspoon salt or to taste
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Chop vegetables into rustic, bite-size chunks, put in large bowl and set aside. Whisk together glaze ingredients. Toss vegetables with glaze until thoroughly coated. Spread over bottom of large baking sheet or roasting pan. Nestle whole sausages into vegetables. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until vegetables are tender and sausages are browned.