I love how romantic and classic Italian food always sounds. Just the mere mention of it can conjure up images, aromas, even flavors. But, in reality, I find (most) "traditional" Italian fare pretty disappointing. Now, before anyone fires up the Fiat and starts heading over here to beat me senseless with a massive mostaccioli, let me explain. I LOVE Northern Italian food most of all. But, here in the U.S. (at least the part I grew up in) "Italian" is pretty much synonymous with tomato sauce, pasta, onions, peppers and meat.
One dish that always sounds enticing to me is sausage, peppers and onions.
There's just a couple of problems here.
- I hate sausage. Well, I love the flavor of sausage, but not what sausage is. I'm very particular about meat. Fat, gristle, bones, hard unidentified shit, etc. doesn't belong in meat and certainly not in any food I'm going to consume.
- Peppers are ok to me in small doses. Qualification: jalapenos and chiles I'm good with because I like some heat. But when it comes to bell peps, I get more picky. I like green ones for fajitas, pizza, sauces, etc. But, it makes me mad when yellow, orange and red bells are marketed as "sweet" peppers. NO THEY AREN'T. They still taste like a regular old bell pepper, but milder in flavor. There ain't nothin' sweet goin' on here.
- Onions are wonderful. But, combine them with bell peppers and tons of tomato based sauce and my experience with an Upper G.I. at age 17 enters my memory like a herd of elephants. But things have changed.
Over Thanksgiving, Aunt Kathy introduced me to something similar yet different. Chicken and apple sausages and (actual) sweet peppers.
Since she's in Florida, she has Publix stores at her disposal that make ours here in S.C. look microscopic. In fact, when we returned after the holiday, I searched my Publix to make sure I hadn't overlooked these items before. Nope. So, I talked to one of the employees and told him about these sausages and peppers I'd seen in Publix-land. Well, sometime this month, I noticed them showing up here. I have no doubt that I had absolutely NOTHING to do with that. I'm just glad that they are here.
I'll quit rambling and let you know more about what I'm talking about... In the bacon/sausage/lunch meat cooler, look for "Alfresco" sweet apple chicken sausage. They are low fat, all natural and gluten free. The best part? Smooth texture, no gristly weirdness and they taste awesome, especially grilled. Next is the peppers. In the produce section, look for bags of small, multi-colored peppers. I don't know what brand name is on them, but you can't miss them. Kathy rubbed them with olive oil and then popped them on the grill. Here's the significant thing: THESE PEPPERS ARE ACTUALLY SWEET. Finally, truth in advertising :-)
To be honest with you, the old Italian sausage with peppers and onions doesn't even sound remotely appetizing anymore now that I've discovered this delicious (and more interesting) alternative. If you're a traditionalist, I respect that; more power to you! But, branch out and try these too. I think you'll be happy about having another sausage and pepper dish in your repertoire!