Grilled Italian Sausage with Peppers, Onions and Arugula

Italian sausage, red bell peppers, and onions, a classic combination, right? Well, they’re even better when served on a bed of fresh, baby arugula greens. No additional dressing needed. The heat from the sausages, peppers, and onions helps to wilt the arugula a little, and the juice from the sausages is all you need for the greens. My friend Heidi H of Carlisle, MA, prepared this sausage dish for us on our annual pilgrimage to the east coast and we loved it! The peppery flavor of the baby arugula is a perfect complement to the sausage, peppers, and onions.

Remember when cooking sausages, cook them on medium low heat, otherwise they’ll cook up tough and dry. For the grill, that means indirect heat, or the cool side. We’ve positioned the sausages in our grill’s upper rack with the peppers below so as they cook, the sausages can baste the peppers in any juice or fat that gets released while cooking.

Update Aug 9: Heidi just reminded me I forgot the honey balsamic glaze! Yikes. It really does add wonderful flavor to the dish. I’ve now added it to the ingredients and method.

  • Prep: 10 minutes
  • Cook: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6.

If you don't have a grill, sear the onions and bell peppers in a little oil on high heat in a large, preferable cast iron, frying pan. Then lower the heat to medium low, add the sausages, and cook, turning the sausages occasionally, until the sausages are cooked through. Towards the end of cooking, baste with the honey balsamic mixture.

Ingredients

  • 1 large red onion, cut into wedges*
  • 2 large red bell peppers, seeded and cut into thirds
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage links
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 to 3 handfuls of baby arugula

*Cut the onion wedges so that the root end is still intact on each wedge. It will make the onion wedges easier to grill and help keep them from falling apart on the grill.

Method

1 Preheat the grill. Mix together the balsamic vinegar and honey in a small bowl and set aside.

2 Coat the onion, peppers and sausages with a little olive oil. Salt the peppers and onion. Coat the grill grates with a little olive oil. Put the onion wedges on the grill and cover the grill. Let the onions roast for 5 minutes, or until they are a little charred. Turn the onions and move them to a cooler part of the grill to finish.

3 If your grill has two levels, place the sausages on the top part of the grill and the peppers directly below them. Done this way, as the sausages drip juice and fat, it will fall on the peppers, flavoring them while simultaneously preventing flare-ups. If your grill does not have two levels, put the peppers on the hottest part of the grill and the sausages on the coolest. Cover and grill everything for 15 to 20 minutes or so, periodically checking and turning the sausages and peppers as needed. Towards the end of cooking, baste the sausages, peppers and onions with the honey and balsamic mixture.

grilled-sausage-peppers-onions-arugula-1 grilled-sausage-peppers-onions-arugula-2

4 When the sausages are cooked through and the peppers and onions cooked, remove them from the grill to a sheet pan or large bowl. If you want, pick off some or all of the charred skin on the peppers. Cut the peppers into long strips, and slice the root end off the onions to separate the pieces. Cut the sausages into thirds. Mix everything well in the pan or bowl.

To serve, place a bed of baby arugula on the serving plates and top with the sausage, peppers and onion.

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