Double fennel today. Because salsiccia is an Italian sausage seasoned with fennel. And fennel is also a main ingredient in the ratatouille. As usual, we start with sharing the recipe for the salsiccia casserole with fennel ratatouille. Later in this article we will look in detail at what salsiccia, or Italian fennel sausages, are. And we have listed some other tasty recipes with fennel.
How to make a salsiccia casserole with fennel ratatouille?
Salsiccia with fennel ratatouille is an oven dish that you can make with relatively little preparation. First and foremost, of course, there is the “mise en place”, to prepare the vegetables. Then you need to briefly brown the sausages in the pan and prepare the ratatouille sauce. Finally, everything can be put in the oven dish and half an hour later you can take a wonderfully fragrant and tasty casserole out of the oven.
Preparing the vegetables
But we start with chopping the vegetables, the so called "mise en place". First we chop the onion and the garlic.
For the onion this means: remove the skin from the onion and then halve the onion. Then cut the onion three-dimensionally into medium sized cubes. First horizontally and vertically in length. Then vertically in width so that you have nice pieces of onion.
Next comes the garlic. We first crush them with a kitchen knife. After that you can easily remove the skin. Then we also cut the cloves into small pieces. Or you can use the garlic press later to crush them in the pan.
Depending on the size, we cut the mushrooms into halves or quarters. We don't want them to cook away completely. If you have a rather small size, it is sufficient to halve them. If they are a bit overgrown, you can cut them into four.
Then comes the fennel, the co-star of this casserole. Remove the top and bottom ends first. They risk remaining tough otherwise. Now halve the fennel, so that you can work it more easily. You can then place it on the flat part, which is much more stable to finally cut it finely. Here too we cut three-dimensionally again, so that we have nice small pieces of fennel. We also cut the green twigs into fine rings. Often there is also some leaf green on it. Keep this aside, you can use it for decoration later.
Finally, there is the baby spinach. In principle, you don't even have to chop them anymore. But I always chop them coarsely anyway, so that the smaller pieces mix better with the sauce.
Browning the salsiccia
Before we brown the salsiccia we pierce it several times with a toothpick. This allows the fat in the sausages to escape when we fry them and put them in the oven. As with all sausages, otherwise we run the risk of them bursting. Quickly poking holes in it with a fork is also not the best idea. Then those holes are very close to each other and the sausages risk tearing easily in that spot.
Since the Italian fennel sausages will go into the oven afterwards, we should not cook them completely in the pan. But we want to briefly brown them on all sides in some oil on a high heat. Looks good, tastes good.
That is why we heat some oil in a pan and then fry the sausages on a high heat for a few minutes. Turn them regularly so that they brown nicely on different sides.
Then the fennel sausages can rest a bit in the oven dish. In the meantime we continue with the sauce and the oven can already be turned on to preheat to 180°C.
Preparing the fennel ratatouille
The pan is still hot. So let's not lose any time. That's why we add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and then immediately fry the onion and garlic in it.
After a minute, the fennel and mushrooms can be added to the pan. We now let them simmer for a few minutes, stirring them regularly.
After about five minutes, we deglaze the vegetables with the red wine and chopped tomatoes. While the sauce comes back to the boil, season it with oregano, salt and pepper. Do you happen to have fennel seeds at home? Then you can certainly also add a teaspoon of it. Everything fennel today!
When the sauce is back to a boil, you can take it off the heat and mix in the baby spinach. Do this in several steps and stir well each time so that the spinach mixes well with the fennel ratatouille.
And off in the oven
Once we're done with that, we can add the sauce to the sausages in the casserole. In the meantime, the oven will also be up to temperature, so that everything can immediately go into the preheated oven. After half an hour you can take a wonderfully fragrant casserole from the oven. And rest assured, this salsiccia casserole with fennel ratatouille tastes really delicious!
Wine tip: Nero d'Avola
As we will explain in more detail further down, these fennel sausages originally come from the south of Italy, from Calabria. Our salsiccia casserole with fennel ratatouille has a distinctly strong taste. So we should aim for an according wine. And so we end up with Nero d'Avola, a Sicilian wine. Which is quite close to the heel of Italy, Calabria.
Nero d'Avola means as much as the black grape of Avola. Avola is a town in eastern Sicily. The local grape variety is very powerful with a very nice taste. On the one hand you have the grape, but on top of that you also have the lava soils of Sicily. These contribute even more to the powerful but delicious taste. And lava, of course, is black when it solidifies. Nero d'Avola is therefore the grape from the lava soils around Avola in eastern Sicily.
And what exactly are salsiccia?
Salsiccia, as the name suggests, is an Italian type of sausage. Although salsiccia is the general name for an Italian sausage, it is best known abroad as the sausage seasoned with fennel.
The habit of seasoning the sausage with, among other things, fennel, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and other herbs comes mainly from the south of Italy. More specifically in Calabria and also in Sicily. It also received the DOP label (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) of the European Union since 1998. This label sets standards for traditional regional products.
The word salsiccia is derived from Latin, salsicia. And with that we have also arrived at the origin of this delicious spiced Italian sausage. Already in the first century BC, some Roman writers (Cicero, Martial, Varro) referred to a preparation with “minced meat pressed in a casing”. And actually reference is made to Luciana. This is the old name for the region of origin, which today is known as Basilicata. And that is in the heel of Italy.
You can find more information about this Italian fennel sausage in the following articles:
- Salsiccia (La cucina d’Italia).
- Italian sausage – Wikipedia.
- What is salsiccia – Meaning and traditions (savoring Italy).
- Salsiccia or salciccia – this is how sausage is called in Calabria.(Bottega di Calabria).
Obviously fennel is the star in this dish. It gives the salsiccia its typical taste and is a main ingredient of the accompanying ratatouille in this recipe. And fennel deserves more attention, because it is certainly an underrated vegetable. Here are some more surprising recipes with fennel:
- Easy vegetarian fennel curry.
- Autumn lasagna.
- Steamed salmon with fennel and beetroot. (gerechtenweb).
If you speak Dutch, you can find the Dutch version of this recipe on gerechtenweb.blog.