My sausage, fennel, and bean casserole is completely vegan, and is incredibly simple to make, yet is bursting with rich tomato and fennel flavours. Plus, has a tiny little chilli kick to liven things up!
Who remembers Poldark in the ’70s? I loved it so much. And I loved Robin Ellis too. He was so perfect in the role. I honestly don’t remember how or when I first came across Robin’s blog – it was certainly long before the lovely Aiden Turner donned the Poldark mantle – but a couple of years back, when Robin published a recipe for his fennel, tomato, and white bean casserole, I thought,
Huzzah, I’ve found the first of the Great Bean Usey-Uppy Quest recipes!
Because I seemed to have hoarded a load of legumes.
(Nothing has changed in the intervening years.)
I say ‘seem to have’ as though I’m unsure how I came to have the bean and pulse mountain of Europe.
Of course, I could pretend that the ‘slight’ over-buy is all part of my cunning plan to make sure we have enough food in the house for when the snows come. I mean, really, look – who would want to go out shopping in that?
It’s a very good job that dried beans and pulses have a long shelf life. And that they travel well on international flights, because they’ve been all over Central and Eastern Europe with me, and have even picked up a few friends along the way.
To be honest, I have a gazillion beany recipes squirrelled away in my mind palace (thank you, Sherlock) but I’m always up for exploring new dishes, and I love that while Robin’s recipe has chilli in it, it’s not too much.
In fact, some of my Thai friends became too embarrassed to eat out with me because of my wimpishness.
Mai phet farang kha!
… they used to say to street food vendors and café owners, which means, ‘foreigner – not spicy’, or, as one of my chums once said,
Pathetic enough to not make her cry.
I wish I were joking.
Moving swiftly along…
Making Sausage, Fennel, and Bean Casserole
Although I used the same amount of chilli as Robin, I did however, cut down on the amount of fennel because amato mio is not a fan of liquorice-type flavours, so I thought if I put too much in, he might not like it, and I wanted him to at least try it before being completely repulsed.
Needless to say that I ditched the fennel seeds too. I also doubled the garlic because honestly, who only uses three cloves? Sorry Robin but really? Three cloves? You live in France – is that even legal there?
I’m really pleased to report that not only did amato mio not mind the fennel at all, he positively wolfed down the casserole. I didn’t tell him until afterward that it contained a bulb of fennel – not because I set out to deceive him but rather because we were both enjoying the meal so much that I completely forgot until he asked me afterward what was in it.
Fennel has now made the list of things-we-hated-as-kids-because-someone-didn’t-cook-them-well-but-now-we-like-them! Amato mio recently added beetroot to his list, while I added red cabbage.
I have yet to be convinced about boiled or steamed sprouts, though…
Vegan Sausage, Fennel, and Bean Casserole
- packed with lovely veggies
- high in protein and fibre
Anyway, enough rambling! I hope you love this dish as much as we do, and that this sausage, fennel, and bean casserole will find its way to your table, and into your tummies.
Serve the casserole in a dish, with a pile of caramelised onions and a sausage on top.
Couldn’t you just tuck into a bowl of this vegan sausage, fennel, and bean casserole?!
Vegan Sausage, Fennel, and Bean Casserole
- 2 large onions thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large bulb fennel trimmed and sliced
- 6 fat cloves garlic smashed
- 2 large fresh red chillies finely chopped
- 2 large plum tomatoes roughly chopped
- 250 g passata
- 3 tbsp vegetable broth
- 4 vegan sausages sliced
- 250 g cooked and drained flageolet or haricot beans (don’t throw away the ‘juice’ – it makes an astonishingly good vegan egg replacer)
- Juice of one lemon
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Heat 3 tbsp oil a heavy skillet, over a medium-high heat, then sauté the onions for around 5 mins, until the begin to turn translucent.
- Add the fennel, and continue to sauté for another 5 mins or so.
- Add the garlic and chilli to the skillet, turn the heat down to medium, and continue to fry - stirring occasionally - for another 5 mins, until the raw garlic smell has gone.
- Mix in the chopped tomatoes, passata, broth, sliced sausages, and beans. Cover the pan, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for around 20 minutes, until the fennel has become tender.
- Stir in the lemon juice, taste and season as necessary with sea salt and black pepper, then serve immediately with your favourite carb (I recommend mashed potatoes!).
- This will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week, or in the freezer for three months.
- This is easily made in a slow cooker too. Gently fry the onions and fennel for 10 mins, then add everything to the pot, and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8.
- 1 cup = US cup = 240 ml
- 1 tbsp = US/UK = 15 ml
- 1 fl oz = US = 30 ml