Sausage, Sweet Peppers, and Onions

Zesty and chockfull of vegetables, this makes a hearty sauce to serve over your favorite pasta, spaghetti squash, or rice. If you use fresh tomatoes, as Miriam does, first dip them in boiling water and peel them, then core, cut them into chunks, and smash them in the pan. Add canned tomato juice if needed, so the other vegetables will have enough liquid as they cook.

1 lb. Italian sausage, links or bulk
2 28-oz. cans of diced tomatoes with juice OR 6-8 large, very ripe fresh tomatoes
1 or 2 large onions, cut into chunks
2 green bell peppers, cut into chunks
Several fresh mushrooms, cleaned and halved
24-oz. can of spaghetti sauce
Liberal amounts of basil, garlic powder, lemon pepper, dill
2-3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
6-oz. can of tomato paste

If you use bulk sausage, brown it in a Dutch oven and drain the excess grease. If you prefer Italian links, boil them in a Dutch oven until nearly done, cool slightly, and then cut them into bite-size chunks. Set meat aside.

Pour the tomatoes, with juice, into this same Dutch oven and add the onion and green peppers. Cover and cook over medium heat until vegetables soften, stirring so the tomatoes don’t scorch. Add the mushrooms and the meat, stirring well. Pour in the spaghetti sauce, then add the bay leaves and the other seasonings—be generous! Lower the heat and simmer, covered, at least a half an hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the tomato paste to thicken the sauce. Serve bubbly hot.

Kitchen Hint: Add any other veggies (chunked zucchini, summer squash, cooked Italian/Roma beans, cooked carrots) and increase the tomatoes and sauce to accommodate them. This recipe also works well in a crockery cooker if you sauté the vegetables before you add them. Like any good sauce, this one tastes best if it’s allowed to sit for several hours (or overnight in the fridge) to allow flavors to blend. Freezes well.

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