Antipasto Sausage Skewers

Inspired by Skagit Valley Co-op’s great success in making homemade sausage, our Meat departments have perfected their own sausage blends.  We’re using whole pork shoulder from Salmon Creek Farms and a blend of herbs and spices (never any preservatives) to create our mild Italian, Breakfast, and Chorizo sausages – available as links or in bulk packages.  All three varieties are available at both of our locations, plus you can also purchase hot Italian sausage at our Downtown store.

Photo © Sassy Sampler 2013

Photo © Sassy Sampler 2013

For my recipe demo yesterday, I decided to feature the mild Italian sausage.  After searching the web for a fun way to serve it, I ran across a recipe for antipasto (Italian for “before the meal”) skewers and thought I’d put my own spin on it.  Not only are these easy to make, but they look great on a plate and make a fantastic appetizer since you can serve them hot or cold.

I started with a specially made 18″ link of sausage (talk to our Meat department if you’d like make a request like this) and paired it with bocconcini mozzarella (those little balls of fresh mozzarella), Mediterranean Organics sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, and some organic local basil from the Growing Garden.  I pre-sliced the sausage (with a really sharp knife) before cooking it in a frying pan over medium heat, and I let the slices drain and cool slightly before assembling my skewers.  They came together very quickly, and flew off the plate equally fast!  They smell divine and are very eye pleasing – a great combination in any dish!

Antipasto Sausage Skewers © Sassy Sampler 2013

Antipasto Sausage Skewers © Sassy Sampler 2013

Antipasto Sausage Skewers

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package Co-op house made Italian Sausage, cut into ~1/2” chunks
  • sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, cut into quarters—you won’t need the whole jar, just a piece for each skewer
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, washed and dried
  • Fresh mozzarella—either bocconcini or a log that has been cut into small chunks
  • Toothpicks or short skewers

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a skillet, cook sausage chunks until browned and fully cooked, about 8 minutes total.  Use a very sharp knife to make the cutting easier.  You can also cook the whole sausage and slice it afterwards.
  2. Drain sausage on a paper towel-lined plate and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Slide a basil leaf onto your skewer/toothpick.
  4. Slide a sun-dried tomato onto the skewer/toothpick until it almost touches the basil.
  5. Add the mozzarella to the skewer/toothpick.
  6. Finish by setting a flat side of sausage on the plate and skewering it so everything sits up vertically.
  7. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  8. Serve immediately, or chill and serve at room temperature.

Variations:
Try substituting one or more of these items:

  • Roasted red peppers
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Smoked goat cheese
  • Spicy sausage
  • Fresh Roma tomatoes

Antipasto Sausage Skewers PDF

Butternut Squash Dip

In honor of the big game this weekend, I thought it would be fitting to make a healthy (yet still tasty!) dip to sample.

I’ll admit, we’re a baseball household (even when the Mariners are having a dismal season; we’ll miss you this year Dave!). I haven’t watched the Super Bowl since I was a teenager, and one of the main reasons I did was because my dad would let my brother and I get any snacks that we wanted for game time – can anyone say sugar overload?

This butternut squash dip is kind of in that vein – the flavor assemblage of squash and goat chevre makes for a sweet combination, with a subtle hint of roasted garlic. I know, sounds kinda weird, but it is delish!

I found the recipe on All Recipes website – it had gotten pretty good reviews and I thought it sounded intriguing. After asking a couple co-workers if they thought it sounded good, I went for it. It was extremely easy to make – you just roast the squash (cut in half and rubbed with olive oil) and the garlic and mash all the rest of the ingredients together with a spoon after it has cooled enough to handle. You can serve the dip warm or chilled (I elected for chilled when I sampled it for customers).

I used a couple small heads of the local red winter garlic since it was available. We only have the 8oz logs of goat chevre at the Co-op, so you can either cut back on the squash (I used a 2.25# squash with 11oz of goat cheese) and get the 8oz log, or I recommend trying a couple of the 5oz packages – either the plain or the pepper flavored ones. I served it with (gluten-free) Food Should Taste Good multi-grain chips and sweet potato chips – I had never tried their sweet potato chips before and found a new favorite!

Butternut Squash Dip

Makes about 4 cups

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium butternut squash, halved and seeded (about 2 1/4#)
  • olive oil for brushing on squash
  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 11 oz of goat cheese (chevre)
  • ~1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 c walnuts, finely chopped
  • Pinch sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ° F.
  2. Brush the cut side of the squash halves with some of the olive oil, and place them oiled side down on a baking sheet/dish.
  3. Cut the top off of the head of garlic.
  4. Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil, and place on the baking sheet/dish with the squash.
  5. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, or until the squash can easily be pierced with a fork.
  6. Scoop the squash out of its skin when it is cool enough to handle, and place in a serving bowl.
  7. Squeeze the cloves of garlic out of their skins, and into the bowl with the squash.
  8. Mash until smooth.
  9. Stir in the goat cheese, lemon juice, and sea salt until well blended.
  10. Sprinkle walnuts over the top.
  11. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For a more mild flavor, you can substitute cream cheese for 1/2 of the goat cheese.

Butternut Squash Dip PDF