We may have had the hottest day on record for the last hundred years in Cape Town last week, but change is definitely in the air. The mornings now have a distinct chill, which has me reaching for my cardie. As the season turns, I’m starting to thinks stews, bakes and pies.
Warming comfort food really doesn’t get any easier than my one-pan, maple-roasted root veg and herbed sausage bake. Just 10 minutes prep, pop it in the oven and walk away. It’s autumn on a plate.
All you need is…
8 pork, chicken or beef bangers (I used herbed pork sausages from Woolies, they’re just gorgeous)
1 large fennel bulb (Woolies normally stocks it)
2 big red onions
6 medium-sized carrots or 8 small ones
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs maple syrup or maple-flavoured syrup
course sea salt (I use Maldon)
pinch of dried chilli flakes (I’ll say it’s optional, but I don’t really mean it…)
8 sage leaves
2 tbs butter
wholegrain mustard, for serving
beurre noisette sweet potato mash, for serving (optional, see recipe here)
Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Place a large non-stick baking tray in the oven to heat up. Cut the bulb off the fennel, wash it and slice it in large chunks. Peel and slice the red onion in quarters. Do the same with the carrots (or, if you’re using miniature ones like I did, leave them whole). Toss the veggies in a bowl with the olive oil, maple syrup, a generous pinch of salt and the chilli flakes. Pour the veggies onto half of the tray and in the oven they go. Turn the oven down to 180 degrees Celsius as soon as you put the veggies in.
Stab the sausages a few times (if you don’t, they will burst as they cook) and toss them in the bowl you tossed the veggies in. They’ll pick up residual oil and spice in the bowl. Once the veggies have been in the oven for ten minutes, add the sausages on the other half of the baking tray. Cook for a further 30 minutes, stirring the veggies and sausages once halfway through to ensure they brown evenly.
Serve immediately scattered with fresh fennel fronds (from the top of the bulb) or with sage leaves briefly fried until crisp in 2 tbs of butter. I say this will serve four, but if you’ve got teenage boys and a 6”4 hubbie who eat like wolves, simply double up on the quantity. In this case, you will need a second baking tray, as loading too much on one tray will cause the veg to steam and not roast. You can also stretch this meal by adding a starch – my beurre noisette sweet potatoes go down a treat.