I have secret food loves. The kind that I never wanted anyone to know about for fear that they might think it’s crazy for my personality, or unusual because of my age, or just really gross. What I’ve learned though, is I shouldn’t be embarrassed because I like something. Right? I mean, it’s just another piece of my wildly vast puzzle that makes me who I am… So here are a few of my secret food loves….
I love Cocoa Pebbles. Yes, I’m a 51 year old woman who prefers to eat Cocoa Pebbles for breakfast. My daughters eat healthier cereal than I do for gosh sake.. I love to dunk my French fries in thick chocolate milkshakes. I love stale Peeps. To me, that’s the only way to eat them. I love plain M&M’s heated in the oven, so that when I bite into the crunchy shell, it bursts with melted chocolate. And I’m afraid of the dark. Which is embarrassing, but in a non-food secret type of category.
One of my biggest secret food loves comes from my childhood… They were the little crunchy, overcooked crumbles of Italian sausage that were left in the greasy pan after my mom made dinner. To this day, I think those little crumbles were the best part of the meal.. Honestly? I think mom used to do that on purpose because she knew how much I loved them.
So that brings me to Italian sausage. I love it in sugo (spaghetti sauce), I love it with peppers and onions on a hoagie roll, I love it on pizza, I even like to just grab a piece out of the pan with my fingers and eat it as is.. or of course, the crunchy little leftover crumbles…
My husband Jon isn’t really a fan Italian sausage. He will eat it if I prepare it, but will casually make a comment like “I don’t why, but I don’t care for Italian sausage anymore..”… I am quite aware that he says this just to make sure I know of his disappointment in the meal that night,…. Oh believe me Jonathan, I was aware of your disappointment the minute I threw the sausage in the pan, and even before you knew what was for dinner! But I always make him meatloaf (his favorite) to make it up to him a day or so later…
One thing that he does love, are the steak in the grass sandwiches that I make. So one night I was scrounging around in the refrigerator looking for something to cook for dinner…. I knew that I had spinach in the drawer that had to be used within a couple of days..I had a couple of mini baguettes, and I had provolone… Ha! Steak in the grass!! Ha..but no tenderloin.. I had turkey tenderloins in the freezer, and I had Italian sausage. “Well, why not?” I thought. While I truly believe that these sandwiches would be absolutely delicious with turkey tenderloin too, I chose the Italian sausage just because it sounded really good. He gobbled that sandwich right up that night, and never said a word!! I’ve made them a few times since, and it’s the same… he doesn’t say anything!!
Now, I think that there are three possible reasons why he doesn’t say anything about the sausage.. One, he doesn’t realize that it’s sausage…. Haha.. Two, he knows that his complaints will be completely ignored…Or three, it’s just plain delicious. I like to think that number three is the case….that they’re just that good.
Usually, to go with the sandwiches, I’ll whip up a small plain salad, and call it dinner. It’s such a quick and easy meal, and really great for those nights that you’re just can’t figure out what to make for dinner; or you’re just too tired to get into anything that’s too complicated. I think that you can use pretty much any type of meat (chicken, turkey, beef, lamb…or sausage) that you’d want, and it would be delicious. We might have to discuss lamb soon… a Lamb in the Grass? Hmmm… I need to start thinking Greek…
Sausage in the Grass Sandwiches
Just a quick note. I’m said that this serves six people. The reason I say six, is because usually when I buy Italian sausage, it comes in packages of six. So figure that you will get one sandwich per sausage link, if it comes in other sizes where you shop. If you don’t want to use a mini baguette, I’ve also used ciabatta rolls. Love them too. Honestly? I think any roll would do.
6 links Italian sausage
3 mini baguettes, sliced in half to make 6 rolls
1- 6 oz bag baby spinach
1 tbsp reserved sausage grease
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
6 slices of provolone cheese
Parmesan cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Slice the baguette halves in half lengthwise, so that you can make a sandwich.
Cook the Italian sausage in a large frying pan, or on the grill. I happened to use the frying pan for this particular recipe. If you decide to cook the sausage on the grill; then increase the olive oil to two tablespoons when you cook the baby spinach. Butterfly each sausage link, and place one link of sausage on the bottom half of each baguette. Fold each slice of provolone in half, and place on top of each sausage.
Remove all of the sausage grease except for one tablespoon, and add one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan (Or two tablespoons of olive oil if you grilled the sausage). Sauté the garlic for just a couple of minutes, add the spinach and the vinegar and cook for just a few seconds until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat; and salt and pepper to taste.
Divide the spinach between each sandwich, layering on top of the provolone. Generously sprinkle shredded parmesan cheese on top of the spinach. Place the tops of the baguettes on each sandwich. Wrap each sandwich individually in aluminum foil, and bake for about 15 minutes until sandwich is heated through and cheese is melted. Serve with a small salad if desired.
For the dinner pictured here, I made a small salad with mixed greens, a large tomato, a cucumber, some black olives, a few slices of thinly sliced red onion and some shredded parmesan.
I made a little bit of buttermilk ranch dressing to mix in:
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 tsp parsley
1 tbsp fresh chives (or dried)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
If you’re feeling ambitious, then toss the ingredients into a blender and whip them up for a couple of minutes. If you’re feeling a little lazy, then feel free to toss all the ingredients into a bowl and stir them up. Either way, it’s quick and easy, and the taste is the same… the blender makes it a little more whipped.
Toss the salad with this dressing; grind some black pepper on top and sprinkle with the shredded parmesan.