Tuesday, December 4

Sweet Sausage and Wild Rice Pilaf

When the weather becomes cooler it seems I have an unquenchable urge to stuff vegetables.  It's something I don't feel in any other season.  I love the idea of a complete meal tucked into an edible package with a cute little "lid," slowly baked in the oven until tender and perfectly caramelized.  Stuffed vegetables are so pretty sitting on the plate, and my kids get such a kick out of peeking under the "lid" to see what tasty surprise awaits them - like a fun present at dinner time.  The pilaf stuffing can be made well in advance so when it comes time to cook you simply clean and hollow out the peppers (or zucchini, or aubergines, or sugar pumpkins, or whatever vegetable tickles your fancy), stuff them, and pop them in the oven for an hour.  It makes for one of the easiest weekday meals.

Incidentally, why doesn't anyone make rice pilaf these days?  Several years ago it was all the rage and pilaf recipes were everywhere.  It seems to have fallen out of fashion, though, which is a shame because it's a delicious, easy weeknight meal, and a simple lunch the next day.

Sweet Sausage and Wild Rice Pilaf

3/4 cup wild rice
1 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp olive oil
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 lbs sweet sausage
1/2 cup white wine
6 medium sage leaves, chopped

Mix the water and rice in a medium, lidded sauce pan, add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook 45 - 50 minutes, until the water is absorbed.

While the rice cooks, brown the sausage and onion in the oil until cooked through.  Add the garlic and cook a minute longer.  Add the wine and sage leaves and simmer until the wine has reduced by half.  Add the cooked rice and taste for seasoning.  Serve as a pilaf or use to stuff vegetables.

This mixture will generously stuff:
4 bell peppers
6 medium zucchinis
2 - 3 medium aubergines
1 sugar pumpkin

Preheat your oven to 375 F (190 C).  Clean, remove the seeds, and create a hollow in the vegetables.  (If using zucchini or aubergine, coarsely chop the part you remove and add it to the pilaf.)  Lightly salt the inside of the vegetables and fill with the pilaf.  Place the vegetables in a large oiled baking pan (I use a cast iron dutch oven).  Cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 10 - 15 minutes, until the tops are crisp and brown and the vegetables are cooked through.

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