It’s spring, so you’re likely to find me gazing and grazing at a farmers market almost every weekend. I’ll pick up purple asparagus, take advantage of the slim season for ramps and get a bag of the tiny misshapen carrots, with greens attached, just because they are so cute.
I’ll usually buy what I can consume and devour it all before I drift off to sleep Sunday night. Fresh and in season is great. That said, when it comes to getting dinner on the table on a busy weeknight, I’m more likely to be perusing my freezer and reaching for frozen vegetables. The little tidy bags are always there for me like that friend I know I can call whenever I need her.
I’m not alone in singing their praises. The Washington Post’s Becky Krystal wrote a piece about their convenience and flavor, and she noted that they have other virtues, too: “Food meant to be frozen is picked at optimal ripeness and processed, often within hours of coming out of the field. That means it can beat out items trucked in from far away in terms of both taste and carbon footprint, especially for vegetables brought up in winter from the Southern Hemisphere.”
I definitely rely on them whenever I need something that is out of – or not yet quite in – season such as okra and corn, but also routinely keep a stock of vegetables that I commonly use, such as green beans, carrots and broccoli. They make it so easy to add color, texture and nutrients to soups, casseroles, stir fries and frittatas. Best of all, for the most part, with frozen vegetables, there is no washing, peeling, slicing or chopping.
This week, I’m having a little fun with the concept of a savory cobbler, and I went all-in on the convenience foods. I picked up cooked Italian chicken sausage, which already is well-seasoned, poured in the odds and ends of frozen vegetables I had on hand and even used refrigerated biscuit dough for the topping. The result is a comforting dish that took me about 20 minutes to assemble and then 20 to bake.
This recipe is a great way to use up leftover, well-seasoned baked chicken or roasted vegetables, too. Can’t embrace the refrigerated biscuit dough? I’ll admit that it is almost as easy to make your own drop biscuits from scratch.
Savory Chicken Sausage and Vegetable Cobbler
We think of cobblers as a dessert best made with seasonal fruit, but this fun twist takes the cozy dish in a savory direction. To make it quickly, we used cooked Italian chicken sausage, frozen vegetables and refrigerated biscuit dough, but you can prepare your own veggies – maybe use leftover roasted carrots or potatoes – and make your favorite drop biscuits. The cobbler is best the day it is made.
4 tablespoons (½ stick/2 ounces) unsalted butter
¼ cup (1 ounce) all-purpose flour
1 cup whole or low-fat milk
1 cup no-salt chicken broth
9 ounces cooked sweet or hot Italian chicken sausage links (about 2 cups), diced
1 (8-ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables, such as sweet peas, corn and carrots (about 1¼ cups)
4 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
¼ teaspoon fine salt
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco (optional)
1 (8-ounce) package refrigerated biscuit dough (about 5 biscuits)
Position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish.
In a large saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, and cook, whisking constantly, until just slightly darkened, about 1 minute. Add the milk and broth and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and bubbling, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the sausage, vegetables, mushrooms, salt, thyme and hot sauce, if using. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly heated and thickened a bit more, about 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Remove the biscuit dough from the packaging, and cut or break each biscuit into three even pieces. Dot the casserole with the dough, nestling each piece into the sausage mixture but leaving space between them. The surface should be fairly evenly covered.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until the biscuits are browned and the filling is bubbly. Let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
Yield: 6 servings
Storage notes: Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 300-degree oven until warmed through.