How to Prepare Italian Sausages with Fennel & Olives
My friend Barbecue Bob and his wife Bert gave me Lidia Matticchio Bastianich's cookbook Lidia's Italy for Christmas. I've seen Lidia on television a few times, but I didn't know much about her. After reading through the introduction of Lidia's Italy and her comments about the various regional cuisines throughout Italy, I'm becoming a big fan.
The cookbook is filled with incredible recipes that home cooks like us can take on and be successful. The other night I was looking for something easy with ingredients I had on hand since I didn't want to make a special trip for dinner stuff. Glancing through Lidia's Italy, I came across her Salsicce con Finocchi e Olive or Sausages with Fennel and Olives.
I had to adapt it a little because I only had black Kalamata olives, and the recipe calls for green olives. The recipe also calls for peperoncino or red pepper flakes, which, I'm sure, give the dish a little heat, but I wouldn't be able to serve it to my girls. I also adjusted the amounts because I only served two adults and two kids, and Lidia's recipe is for 6.
This is a very easy dish to assemble on a weeknight and essentially a one-pot meal. I did serve it with some orzo and my wife and I enjoyed a glass of Planeta's 1999 Santa Cecilia , a Sicilian red wine with a lively nose and a rich, herby complex taste.
Sausages with Fennel and Olives Recipe
- 4 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- 6 sweet Italian sausages about 1 pound
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 3 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
- ½ cup large pitted Kalamata olives Lidia uses pitted green olives
- 1 large fennel bulb trimmed of its stalk and tough base coarse sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon peperoncino flakes optional
- Start by getting all your ingredients prepped. Cut the fennel into 1-inch pieces, measure out your wine, smash or chop the olives, and have all the ingredients ready to cook.
- Heat a large fry or sauté pan over medium heat until a drop of water evaporates immediately when hitting the pan's surface. Add two tablespoons of oil and then the sausages. Add the sausages to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, being sure to turn so they don't burn.
- When the sausages are brown on all sides, add the wine and bring to a boil. Cook until the wine is reduced by half. Transfer the sausages to a plate and pour the remaining wine over them—reserve for later.
- Add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and then the garlic. Cook for about a minute until the garlic begins to sizzle. If you use the peperoncino flakes, now's the time to add them. Now it's time to add the smashed olives and cook for a minute or two.
- Toss in the chopped fennel and combine with the garlic and olives. Season with a bit of salt, cover the pan and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes until the fennel softens and starts to turn golden. Be sure to stir the ingredients every once in a while so they don't burn.
- Lidia suggests adding a little water to the pan if the fennel is still hard after 20 minutes. I didn't find this to be the case.
- When the fennel is ready, add the sausages to the pan, the wine, and any accumulated juices. Mix everything to combine flavors and cook uncovered until the fennel caramelizes. This should take about 5 minutes.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve alone or with pasta, rice, couscous, or orzo as we did.