This time last year, I'd put my boots in the back of the cupboard and swapped them for an array of sandals. My thick cardigans and jumpers were folded up, put in the top of the wardrobe and were being ignored in favour of t-shirts and light weight jackets... and my toenails were painted in spring colours...
This year is a little bit different.
...I've just walked the dog... in a woolly hat. Of course, I was wearing more than just that (don't even go there)... but a woolly hat? In April? I almost came back and got my scarf when the wind picked up as I walked down the hill! Last year on my birthday (which is around this time of year), I was wearing chiffon... chiffon!!! ... with my sandals et al when we went out to dinner to celebrate. This year - boots, jeans and a long black snug woolly jumper... and a jacket. The woolly hat would have spoiled my strategically messy hair or I'd have worn that too. One can't really sit down to dinner with a bad case of "Helmet Head" and feel that ones husband is finding one attractive.
What on earth is going on? Didn't we have a bad enough year weather wise last year? Did it not rain cats and flippin' dogs from April until December? I so desperately want to blame the government for the weather... or people with really bad hair... or New Age Travellers (who are sooo new age that they don't actually travel)... but I can't. Because apparently it's not their fault.
The only comfort - other than turning the dial up to three on the electric blanket - is that warming winter recipes manage to find their way to the table a bit more often than they might otherwise... and this one fits the bill rather nicely.
I debated whether or not to call it a straight forwards "sausage casserole", but it's got soooo much in it, that the other ingredients were worthy of a mention. It's one of those meals that will take virtually any vegetable that you have at your disposal, that you want to use up. I had half a butternut squash and a slightly sad parsnip that were perfect for bunging in with the rest of the veg.
There's so much in it, that you really don't need anything more than a few thick slices of crusty bread to go with it.
...and some grated cheddar if you really can't help yourself.
Which I couldn't.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *Serves 4
Prep time - 10 minutes
Cooking time - 1hr 10 minutes
You will need
A large pan/skillet with lid
1 tbsp vegetable oil
8 beef sausages
5 rashers back bacon - chopped
3.5oz/100g spanish chorizo sausage - sliced
2 cloves garlic - crushed
2 carrots - peeled and sliced
1 leek -sliced
1 onion - chopped
2 sticks celery - sliced
9oz/250g butternut squash - peeled, deseeded and chopped
1 parsnip - peeled and chopped
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp paprika
2 x 14oz/400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste/puree
5 fl oz/150ml beef stock
14oz/400g can of your favourite beans - rinsed and drained
salt and pepper
1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional)
Heat the oil in the pan and gently fry the sausages until browned on all sides, but not cooked through. Remove the sausages from the pan with a slotted spoon and place to one side. Add the bacon and chorizo to the pan and cook until the chorizo begins to release it's oil. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place to one side, with the sausages.
Add the chopped vegetables and garlic to the pan and cook gently until beginning to soften - about 5 minutes. Stir in the rosemary and paprika, cook for a minute before adding the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and beef stock. Stir well then put the sausages, chorizo and bacon back into pan, mix them in gently and pop the lid on.
Cook at a simmer for 40 minutes, remove the lid and add the beans (I used butter beans). Stir them in and cook for a further 10 minutes, with the lid off. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with hunks of Tiger Bread, garnished with a little fresh chopped parsley.
NOTE: You can use any vegetables you have handy, in this casserole - just try to keep the quantities about the same.