We’ve just returned from a few days in Provence where they have near constant sunshine in which to bask and also to grow sunflowers, lavender, olives by the field load. The Great British Summer in contrast is a fickle thing. Slightly disappointing, but not entirely surprising then, to come home to find the only species flourishing in the vegetable bed were a small posse of damp-loving funghi.
This one-pot bake is a perfectly suited to the trials and tribulations of a classic British summer. The flavours are sunny and Mediterranean (lemon, oregano, tomato, olive oil) but the finished dish is also suitably warm and cozy for an evening inside watching the rain. It is a “one-pot” supper in the nutritional sense too, combining summer vegetables (fennel, cherry tomatoes, onions), high protein, high fibre dried beans, monounsaturated olive oil and a wholegrain breadcrumb topping. One serving provides at least 3 of your five serves of fruit and vegetable per day with minimal effort.
Veggie sausages are typically lower in fat and more environmentally sustainable to produce than the meaty sort. For a dish like this where the sausages are a bit player rather than the true star of the show, I tend to use veggie sausages (for the aforementioned reasons). The recipe as it stands produces a dry style of dish with a crispy top; if you fancy something a little more cassoulet in style then just add a slosh of stock or white wine to the pan before topping with the breadcrumb.
Related musings and recipes on Mostly Eating
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The perfect convenience food? Why a humble tin of beans is good for you and the planet
Fennel and Tomato Lasagne
Aubergine, courgette and tomato stew with quinoa and feta
What to eat now – a Mediterranean or Nordic style diet?
Recipe for Mediterranean sausage, fennel, canellini bean and tomato gratin
If you have one, use a casserole that can go straight from hob to oven.
Serves two very hungry people, or four as a light lunch
4 herby, veggie sausages, thickly sliced
1 fennel bulb, sliced
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
400g can canellini beans, drained
1 tbsp olive oil
1 heaped tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and pepper
For the breadcrumb topping
1 slice bread, crumbed (I use wholegrain granary)
1 tbsp olive oil
Zest of one lemon
Preheat the oven to 180 C, 350 F.
Saute the sausages in a tablespoon of olive oil until lightly browned. Lift the sausage slices from the pan and put to one side. Add the fennel, onion and garlic to the pan and cook on a medium heat for another five minutes.
Add the sausages back into the pan with the fennel, onion and garlic. Next add the canellini beans, tomatoes and oregano and stir. Season with plenty of pepper and a little salt.
Lightly flatten the contents of the pan with the back of a spatula.
In a separate bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with the lemon zest, olive oil and some more black pepper.
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the sausage/bean mixture and bake for 30 minutes.