Sausages with fennel, borlotti beans and polenta

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September 3, 2018

Cognoscenti might recognise this as one of Nigel Slater's midweek suppers from The Observer magazine but the polenta and borlotti beans are my addition. It's equally good with soft/wet or firm polenta - timing is easier with the firm so I've done that.

Serves 4.


3 Medium heads of Florentine fennel, each cut into 6 or 8 wedges (depending on size)

8 Sausages (the Italian ones with fennel seeds from the freezer are good)

4 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp honey

half a glass of dry vermouth or white wine

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 tins borlotti beans

200 g quick cook polenta

2 tbsp (heaped) of chopped herbs (parsley, basil, chives etc)


1Switch on the oven to 175°C. Brown the sausages all over, under a hot grill or in a frying pan.

2Heat half the olive oil in a frying pan large enough to hold the fennel in a single layer. Add the fennel and brown on all sides over a high heat.

3Remove the fennel and gently fry the garlic for a minute or two.

4Return the fennel to the pan,add the sausages and a little water.

5Mix well, cover with lid or a piece of tinfoil and cook in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the fennel is soft.

6Meanwhile, fry the onion until soft. Add the borlotti beans and chopped herbs and set aside.

7Cook the polenta as per instructions (approx 800mls water, 1 tsp salt) for about three minutes (stirring continually) and tip out and spread on a baking sheet. Allow to cool enough to cut then keep warm.

8Fold the bean/onion mix in with the sausages and fennel and cook for another five minutes.

9Transfer the sausages, beans and fennel to a warm serving dish, then place the pan over a medium heat and pour in the vermouth/wine.

10Let the contents of the pan bubble, whilst stirring in the debris with a wooden spoon. As the liquid comes to the boil,stir in the mustard and honey.

11Leave to bubble for a minute or two, taste and adjust the seasoning, then serve with a wedge of polenta.