I love getting asked about cooking and my passion for food. It is, after all, what I love and it is what makes me happy. So as long as someone is listening then I will talk. And talk some more. And to think I use to be shy! LOL! One question I am often asked is my ‘creative process’ for coming up with recipes. You know, what inspires me. Oh how I love this question! So many things inspire the recipes I create! The seasons, holidays, movies and books, foods I eat at restaurants, brands and products, friends and family, and even late night cravings. : ) All these things inspire me, push me, help me create masterpieces in the kitchen. Like, since summer is upon us, all I can think of is easy cooking, yest tasty summer recipes. Recipes like sandwiches and burgers, no cook dishes and salads.
Another place that I get inspired is cruising the aisles of the grocery store! Just the other day I was at my local Walmart picking up groceries and saw some Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes. To be honest, I think some of my best recipes are inspired by products and brands! I love the challenge of coming up with new ideas and recipes to use popular products we all have in our kitchens. Canned tomatoes are a priceless comity in my kitchen because I use them in all sorts of dishes. From making marinara sauce to salsa, to adding canned tomatoes to enchiladas and queso, to being a vital ingredient in pasta dishes, soups, stews and chili; this canned veggie plays a vital role! And Hunt’s uses a unique flashsteam peeling method that make them the perfect addition to any dish.
Since my mind is always going with ideas, I keep composition notebooks, full of lists and notes of recipe ideas, with me at all times. Some of these ideas are new (at least to me) and others are new versions of old favorites. Today’s recipe is inspired by one of my favorite flavor combinations, sausage and peppers, and of course those Hunt’s tomatoes I picked up at Walmart.
I absolutely loved how this dish came out! It is a hearty enough salad main dish that anyone will love (even the hungriest of guys), yet light and easy enough for those hot summer days when you just don’t feel like cooking. The plump, perfectly cooked sausage, crisp bell peppers, tangy feta cheese and a quick homemade spicy tomato vinaigrette (yes, my friends a tomato vinaigrette that I could drink!!!!) is simply divine!
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons beef broth or water
1 (14.5-ounce) can Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes with Spicy Red Pepper
1 small red bell pepper; stemmed, seeded and diced
1 small green bell pepper; stemmed, seeded and diced
1 (8-ounce) package mixed salad greens
¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes with Spicy Red Pepper, plus reserved liquid
1 teaspoon Hunt’s Tomato Paste
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Hunt’s Tomato Sauce
¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper, or to taste
¼ – ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ cup fresh basil
For salad: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausages and cook, turning once, until well browned, about 6-8 minutes total.
Add balsamic vinegar and water or broth to skillet.
Cover and cook, flipping occasionally, until sausages are fully cooked, about 5-8 minutes. When cooked thoroughly, remove from pan and cool slightly. Slice sausage into bite size pieces. Set aside.
Drain tomatoes, reserving liquid. Set 1/3 cup tomatoes and reserved liquid aside to make vinaigrette.
To make vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator until ready to use.
To serve: Gently toss the remaining tomatoes, bell peppers, salad greens, sausage and prepared vinaigrette. Serve immediately.