One gem in the farmers markets is sausage. This type of meat is not as pretty as your filets, whole chickens or pork chops, but is a mixture of many different cuts of meat (those that are too small to sell individually). Sausage is an easy way for farmers and consumers to minimize wasted protein and is an opportunity to add spice and flavor to otherwise boring meat.
Most pork farmers have a couple types of sausage including breakfast sausage, kielbasa and regular pork sausage. The later is my favorite to work with because it has a great basic flavor but takes on other flavors really nicely. I use this sausage for pasta sauces (both tomato- and cream-based), casseroles, and breakfast foods. I’ve included one recipe below that I love because it is quick, easy and highlights produce grown regularly right here in Charlotte. The sausage I got from Windy Hill Farm, the tomatoes from Houston Farms and the onions and garlic from the Kings Drive Market*, but most markets this time of year have all of these ingredients. Windy Hill's sausage is surprisingly low in fat and very flavorful making this a great, light Spring dish!
Sausage Polenta Tomato! (LPO)
2 links sausage of choice
1 package polenta, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup fresh tomatoes (any variety), cut in 1 inch pieces
1 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
- Remove sausage casing and cut into ½ inch pieces
- In a large skillet, sauté sausage over medium heat with olive oil until about half way cooked
- Add onions and garlic and cook until soft
- Add polenta and then tomatoes
- Heat until polenta is slightly brown on all sides
Note: if you don’t like to work with or eat polenta, this recipe is also great over angel hair pasta!
*There are varying opinions, rumors and speculation on where the food from the Kings Drive Market comes from. I asked one of the cash register ladies there once and she couldn’t really tell me. Some of their produce says “NC Mountain Apples” or “Local SC Cucumber” but otherwise the labels are kind of vague. All I know is that bananas, grapefruit and avocados don’t grow in North Carolina. However, they are one alternative to grocery store produce that many Charlotteans prefer.