Almost nothing screams summer to me like something cooked on the grill. Whenever I think of summertime food during other times of the year, it always has that just-grilled heat, that just-grilled tang, and the just-grilled caramelized sweetness. I love that the grill comes with the smell of fire and the heat of an outdoor flame. I love the way that food that is perfectly cooked on the grill, whether it is meat or vegetables, comes out both juicy and slightly charred. I love the way that grilled food just tastes like summer, like it has been imbued with the flavors of the summer sun itself.
And so one summery evening last week as I wandered home through the farmer’s market, I found myself nearly drooling while imagining how all of the summer vegetables and meat offerings would taste grilled to perfection. With this thought in mind I collected my summer bounty, I traipsed home on a cloud of grill smoke, and as I walked in the door I realized—not only had I gone drastically overboard in terms of the sheer quantity of food that I’d bought, but in my tiny NYC apartment there is also obviously no space to grill. I had prepared for a summer meal, perfect in its flavor and its lovely grilled sweetness, and instead the thought of its existence was only an unsatisfying tease in my mind.
I had to find a way to make this work. I was tired, I was hungry, and I was hankering for my summer flavors. So I improvised. I prepared my lamb sausage and my multitude of vegetables on a baking sheet and I cranked the oven to high. After roasting the vegetables, I blasted the broiler for a few moments to give everything that flame-licked char. And you know what? Everything was delicious. The vegetables puckered under the heat and the sausages bubbled and hissed like any good grilled sausage would. My faux-grilled meal even tasted like summer, and while the fresh summer produce certainly helped, I will never admit that the real reason behind the summer flavor was anything but the cooking technique.
A couple of notes before I start the recipe: the vegetables I used are listed below, but in reality this procedure is highly adaptable to whatever vegetables you can find. I would definitely recommend throwing some scallions and baby onions into the mix– they get sweet and mellow and delicious as they cook for a bit at high heat. The radishes were also a perfect accompaniment that I wasn’t quite expecting to turn out so well. I had never roasted radishes before and was pleasantly surprised to discover that roasting turns them into mellow, moist, lovely little tubers. I was also lucky enough to find some incredible lamb sausage, but this would work particularly well with pork sausage and also probably with chicken sausage. Keep in mind, though, that chicken sausage is usually pre-cooked and so you will most likely have to reduce their cooking time.
The quantities below were enough for about three meals (for me), but you may need to adjust them based on the relative hunger and size of your dinner guests.
And now, without further ado:
Faux-Grilled (Roasted) Lamb Sausage and Summer Vegetables
3 lamb sausages (may be substituted as noted above)
1 bunch radishes
1 bunch (6 or so) scallions
1 bunch (6 or so) fresh baby onions
6 small red onions
2+ tablespoons of olive oil
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and then clean your vegetables.
Cut the radishes from their leafy bunches (it is perfectly alright to leave some stem) and wash them thoroughly.* Cut the smaller radishes in half and the larger ones into quarters. Throw the pieces into a large bowl.
Remove the hairy root bits from the scallions and the onions. Remove the very tops of the green parts from the scallions– only the last few millimeters, only going further if the greens look dead-ish. If the onions have green stems, do the same to them. Throw them whole into the large bowl with the radishes.
Clean the red onions and slice into halves. Throw them into the bowl with the other veggies.
Add the olive oil to the bowl and mix thoroughly, making sure to coat all of the vegetables with the oil. Once they are coated, add them to the baking sheet with the sausages.
Once the oven is preheated, insert the baking sheet into the oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the radishes are relatively soft. You may want to check your sausages at this point, too– if they are thicker, they will most likely need more time in the oven. Then turn the broiler on and broil everything for 5-10 minutes or until pleasantly brownish. You may want to remove some of the more delicate vegetables (like the scallions and onion greens) before turning the broiler on as to avoid burning.
Last but not least, open a window, put your feet up, and enjoy. After all, it is summertime.
*Radish greens are actually quite lovely to eat, and just because you are roasting the radish doesn’t mean you have to throw the greens away! They are lovely sauteed with a bit of olive oil and salt and would also be delicious in a salad.