Pork sausage and beans. What better combination can there be? On this occasion not just any old sausages, but some lovely garlicky Toulouse sausages. The sort of thing you need for making a proper Cassoulet. Yes, Cassoulet was definitely my inspiration for this dish.
I'm not going to give you a recipe for this one, because everyone knows how to make a sausage casserole, surely? I'll just describe it...
Fry some smoked bacon and sliced onions in a casserole dish, along with a few whole tiny onions and some garlic. Set aside while you brown the sausages. Return the bacon and onions to the pan and add the remaining ingredients: stock; homemade tomato sauce; herbs (thyme and rosemary) and a tin of cannellini beans. Cook gently for a long time. Then you have this:
Since my sausage casserole was to be fairly straightforward, I wanted to do something a bit more upmarket with its vegetable accompaniments. I chose to do Parsnip chips (with homegrown Parsnips) and Sweet Potato mash - both easy to do but dramatic to look at.
I stuck some whole, unpeeled, Sweet Potatoes in the oven while the casserole was cooking. When they were cooked (about 90 minutes) I halved them and removed the flesh from the skins:
I put the potato flesh in a non-stick pan, added some butter and black pepper and beat it firmly with a wooden spoon until it was smooth and creamy. At this point I left it to cool and warmed it up later, just before serving time. If I had been able to judge how long the Sweet Potatoes would take to cook I could have co-ordinated my timings to serve them straight away, but...
Now the Parsnip chips. Easy when you have an Actifry machine! Just peel the Parsnips and cut into chip-sized pieces; put them in the Actifry; add a tablespoonful of oil; switch on. Forty minutes later the machine goes "Beep" and you have lovely golden Parsnip chips!
Of course you could make Parsnips chips the old-fashioned way, deep-fried in a pan of oil, but we are great fans of the Actifry - it cooks things very evenly because they are constantly being turned by the cunning rotating blade thingy, and they are much healthier because you only use a very small quantity of oil.
You will have noticed that my meal had a very brown / yellow / orange colour theme. Well, I had an answer to that. You want some green? I can give you green...
A sprinkling of finely-chopped (homegrown) Parsley adds the necessary colour contrast, but also adds a pleasantly fresh taste.
So there you go: Toulouse sausage and bean casserole, with Sweet Potato mash and Parsnip chips: