When people ask me what my go-to mid-week meals are, I invariably mention my love of a sausage tray bake. Cooking in this way is hands-off and delicious. Spend the time and money on good sausages (made from happily raised animals please) and a lot of the flavor work is done for you. Below you’ll the various combinations of vegetables I use throughout the year, but this recipe uses a decidedly autumnal sage and squash combo. The apple salad I make with this provides a nice dose of acid freshness to balance things out – it may sound odd but it is utterly transformative and has won everyone over I’ve made it for.
In fact it has become so popular that I’ve created a cook along video for you so you can see all the nuances that I share on how to make a simple dish taste amazing. I recommend getting all your ingredients out then watching this 17 minute video as you cook. The first part is the prep and lasts around 10 minutes. Then you can pause while your bake cooks and return to make the apple salsa in the last few minutes of the video before following how I plate it up. Do let me know about this video – it is a new thing for me so I’m learning and would love your feedback!
I taught this in my menu planning class recently because it is a great way to do one lot of cooking but make two dinners. Make a little extra of this recipe, hold some back when you serve it and use it for tacos later in the week. Scroll down for how to resurrect it so that your second dinner doesn’t feel like leftover groundhog day.
Active prep time: 5-10 minutes. Cooking time: 40-50 minutes
Ingredients (serves 4) Make more to use with pasta/tacos later in the week.
Half a tablespoon of olive or rapeseed oil
8 sage leaves (keep unused leaves in the freezer in a plastic bag and use them from frozen in future)
1 butternut squash (or substitute with a mixture of carrots, potatoes, celery root or parsnips,)
5 cloves of garlic, left whole in their skins
1 red onion
8 pork sausages, chopped in half (I like Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference or Waitrose free range Cumberland pork, stateside I like Whole Foods meat counter British Bangers or mild Italian)
1-2 tablespoons cider, red or white wine vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 granny smith apples – the tarter the better
4 handfuls rocket (arugula) or watercress
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (sweeter apples will need more lemon)
Half a tablespoon good olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 220°C (420°F) and take your sausages out of the fridge.
- Get out a large heavy metal baking sheet.
- Scrub your butternut squash but don’t peel it. Take a quick look at the 1 minute 20 second part of my video of how to safely chop it. Cut the top (narrowest) stalk off then cut the bottom half inch off to create a flat base. Hold the squash so it is sitting on the now flat base. Using a big, sharp knife, cut it in half through its waist to create two halves which can then be cut in half top to bottom. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. These can be roasted separately for a crunchy topping or can be thrown away. Chop the squash into 1 inch slices then turn the slices on their side and chop them into 1-2 inch pieces so you are left with a pile of cubes. Watch my how to video here.
- Peel your red onion and cut it into quarters.
- Put all your chopped squash on the baking sheet along with the olive oil, onion, sage leaves, salt and pepper and the whole cloves of garlic – just squash the garlic with the side of a knife but leave the skin on.
- Mix with your hands – as you mix, separate the layers of onion so each quarter breaks into a few pieces. This stage can be done ahead of time and left out, covered in foil for a few hours.
- Place your sausages on top of the vegetable mixture. The more spread out this is, the quicker it will cook. This stage can be done ahead of time and left in the fridge, tightly covered.
- Cook in the oven for 30 minutes before taking the pan out, giving it a shake and turning the sausages to ensure they brown on two sides. You may need to scrape the bottom a little to ensure the squash doesn’t stick – don’t worry, a little sticking is good as it will make it gooey and brown.
- Return to the oven for 10-20 minutes, depending on how brown you like your sausages and how big and cold they were when you put them in the oven.
- While your sausages are finishing, make your apple salad by grating or finely chopping your apple into matchsticks. This is at the 10 minute 30 second point of of my video. Leave the skin on. Toss the apple with lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper and olive oil then with the rocket (arugula).
- When you are happy with the colour of your sausages and your squash is soft and golden on the edges, take the pan out of the oven.
- Sprinkle over a teaspoon or two of vinegar and toss with the squash and sausage. This brightens up the flavours and is essential so don’t skip it! Taste the squash and add salt and pepper as needed, gradually balance the acid by using the vinegar then serve with a pile of the apple salad on top.
Should be wrapped in foil and can be kept in the fridge for 3 days before using cold or reheated. I usually reheat them in the foil in the oven until they are hot all the way through or stir them into hot pasta sauce.
If you want to freeze your leftovers, just chop the sausages and freeze with the vegetables in a container. Then just defrost and reheat and stir into pasta when you want a quick, delicious dinner.
And another dinner:
- Roughly chop leftover sausage and veggies and stir into cooked pasta along with some mustard and cream cheese and pasta water to create a sauce, then bake with breadcrumbs on top.
- Use the leftovers, chopped and re-heated in tacos, lettuce wraps or flatbread wraps. Make sure the ingredients you add to your tacos cover off a nice range of textures, temperatures and flavors. Read all my taco night tips and ideas here.
- Use the same method for the sausage bake but switch up the veggies. I usually use whatever is in my fridge. Just remember, harder root veg take as long as the sausages to cook. Softer veg like cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, courgette (zucchini), green beans can be added after the sausages have been cooking for 20 minutes. Remember that final hit of vinegar to brighten the flavors.
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