…with Peppers, Mushrooms and Fennel

by Lara Miller

The music issue has arrived!

I love music. It’s good for the heart and good for the soul. I have to have music on constantly while I’m cooking.

Music and cooking are alike in a lot of ways actually, even though it may not seem that way. They are both a form of expression, an art form.

The musician and the chef each have their own ways of making something out of nothing. They create beautiful art, they are passionate about their craft (says Kanye), they draw from their own experiences to make something that’s personal to them and turn it into something beautiful for others to enjoy and relate to.

I personally am huge on lyrics in songs. I love how songs can express different moods and ideas so perfectly.

I am always fascinated by how amazingly and seamlessly songs can tell a message through the lyrics, melodies, strings and vocals of different artists.

I mean, don’t get it twisted, I’m not falling all over myself to turn up the volume when Selena Gomez comes on the radio and starts singing about how “the heart wants what it wants.”

What exactly her heart wants is not mine to tell. But she seems to think her heart wants an androgynous “man” (with pretty great hair, I have to admit) who went from little boy pop to tatted up “thug” in like, the blink of an eye.

So, basically, she’s saying her heart wants a poser. Well, to each his own. My heart wants that song to go somewhere and die.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, I have a friend, one of my best friends actually, who is married to an amazing artist who was in a very famous band that I used to rock out to all the time back when I was just a wee teenager.

I still hear his songs on the radio all the time and rock out to them, only now I rock with my kids in the car. Trying to teach my babes what good music sounds like!

I’ve loved his music since before I ever even met him. This man is infinitely talented and feels music in his bones.

He is also an amazing cook and knows his way around the kitchen and sometimes asks me
for tips and recipes of things that I make. I happily
exchange recipes and tips with him … for a
small price.

In exchange for my precious words of wisdom that I so generously bestow upon him (ahem, ahem), I make him play his guitar (one of like, a thousand that he owns) and sing songs for me.

Like, in his living room.

With just me and his wife. A totally private show. He loves it. And by loves it, I mean he hates it.

(Being the center of attention is not his thing—another thing we both have in common.)

But what he does love is this recipe that I came up with a few years ago for my family.

It’s easy, really flavorful, so delicious and ready in no time.

I’ve made it for him and his family quite a few times in the past until he finally asked me for the recipe.

Now he makes it all the time for his family and it’s become a staple in their home.

So, in honor of this being the music issue here at 4L, this simple and delicious recipe goes out to my most favorite musician and my great friend … Steve Morris!

Now, go blast some Unwritten Law, make this recipe for some people you love and have a rockin’ dinner!


Chicken Sausage Ingredients

3/4 lb. hot ground chicken sausage, out of the casing

3/4 lb. sweet ground chicken sausage, out of the casing

1 red bell pepper, sliced thin

1 green bell pepper, sliced thin

1 bulb fennel, sliced thin

1 – 8 oz. package cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 yellow onion, sliced thin

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 large or 4 small tomatoes, diced (or you can use 1 – 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes)

3/4 cup – 1 cup tomato sauce

Bunch fresh basil

Bunch fresh cilantro

Kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

01 In a large saute pan over medium high heat, add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and brown both the sweet and hot sausage together.

02 Gently break up and mix the meat together with a wooden spoon.

Careful not to break it up too much because you want to have nice, big chunks of sausage, not tiny little ground up bits.

03 You want to get some caramelization on the meat, so let them sear for about 5-6 minutes after you break them up and mix them together.

After the meat is nicely browned, put it into a bowl and set aside.

04 In the same pan, turn your heat down to medium and add about 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, depending on how much fat was left behind from the sausage.

05 Throw in your sliced mushrooms and let them sear until they release all their mushroom juices, about 5-6 minutes.

06 Next, turn your heat back up to medium high and add in your sliced fennel, onions and peppers and season with about 1 teaspoon of salt and a good amount of fresh cracked pepper.

It may seem like a lot of veggies at first, but fear not:

Everything will cook down a lot after all the moisture has come out.

You want to get all those veggies nice and caramelized which should take about 10-15 minutes.

07 When you see the veggies have achieved some nice color and have softened, add in your minced garlic and diced tomatoes and season again with salt and pepper.

08 Knock the heat back down to medium and add in the tomato sauce and all of the previously cooked chicken sausage, along with any juices that have accumulated at the bottom of that bowl.

The tomato sauce adds a nice richness to this dish that I love.

Let everything simmer together for about 5 more minutes.

09 Add in as much fresh chopped basil & fresh chopped cilantro as you like. I like adding both herbs to this, but you can pick one or the other if you prefer.

And then, that’s pretty much it.

You can serve this deliciousness over mashed potatoes, pasta, polenta, but I like to make it over brown rice.

This is one both the kids and the adults will enjoy!

I’m telling you, super easy, super fast and super rock star!

TIP: You can mix and match veggies here. If you don’t like fennel, leave it out! If you want to add zucchini, go for it. This is a really versatile dish that goes a long way!

TIP: To make this dish even easier, you can use a bag of frozen bell peppers instead of the fresh ones.

TIP: I’ve added chipotle peppers to this dish before for a spicy and smoky kick and it was delicious! Don’t be afraid to experiment with flavors you enjoy!

lara-miller-4L-magazine-san-diego

My name is Lara Miller and I am a wife to a pretty cool San Diego dude and mama to three handsome little boys. Yes, I am a lone ranger in a pad full of testosterone. Here is my thing… I love to cook. I’m not a chef, but cooking is what makes the world turn for me. It’s like my therapy, and believe me… dealing with three boys on the daily requires some serious therapy!

Instagram: ChickpeaKitchen   /   Lara@ChickpeaKitchen.com   /   ChickpeaKitchen.com