AS the hot weather continues, we’re crossing our fingers that it lasts longer than last year’s fortnight of decent temperatures before a seemingly endless summer of cool, damp days.

Dare I mention the B-word? Is it actually time to wheel out the barbecue for its seasonal stay outdoors for the next few months?

I do hope so, because there’s nothing quite like the scent of warm, fresh air imbued with tendrils of sweet, barbecue smoke.

The appetite is whetted by those aromas coming from the grill, of sugary marinades caramelising around juicy joints, and of fat, crisping and rendering above white-hot coals while the slabs of meat become crunchy-coated yet meltingly tender.

A good salad or two, a couple of bottles of something ice-cold, and you’re in heaven.

So, tentatively, I thought this week about things to grill and cook outdoors, and my mind wandered to sausages.

This happens a lot, especially with men, for whom I think the sausage shares a strange and unique affinity.

There’s something about the depth of flavour and the instant ‘eatability’ that we love.

No British barbecue is ever really complete without a few bangers tucked to one side of the grill, especially as any leftover sausages will easily disappear from that little plate in the fridge, often within hours.

No matter how much a man eats at a barbecue, you can pretty much guarantee that, last thing at night, if there’s a plate of snorkers in the fridge, one will be scoffed just because it’s there. It’s genetically programmed.

I thought I’d try something different with the sausages this time, and was reminded of a classic American-Italian summer street-food favourite, sausage and peppers; a slow-cooked sweet-sour stew of capsicum peppers, livened up with a touch of garlic, onion and oregano, perhaps a little tomato (though some see this as sacrilege) on top of which one sits several plump sausages.

These are often served spooned into large rolls, piled unfeasibly high and almost impossible to eat with any degree of grace or elegance. It’s definitely a sleeves-rolled-up snack.

The sweetness of the peppers and onions, twinned with the aromatic herbs, is incredibly evocative – it’s a very summery flavour, and it’s a great recipe to make on a quiet day and reheat whenever you fancy, to serve not only with those sausages, but perhaps underneath a grilled pork chop, or perhaps a chicken thigh, or even a nice thick yellowfin tuna steak.

There’s a bit of legwork involved, de-seeding and slicing all the peppers, but the resulting dish is well worth the effort, and will freeze for weeks, so it really is quite a handy helper to have around.

A note on the sausages – you should really push the boat out and try to find a top-quality gourmet-type Italian sausage – ideally along traditional lines, laced with plenty of fresh herbs, a generous blast of garlic, and ideally with a touch of red wine and the unmistakable aromatic scent of fennel.

Many supermarkets do Italian sausages, and certain resourceful butchers make their own variants.

If you can’t find Italian sausages, a good garlic-y Toulouse-style sausage will work almost as well, and even the good old Lincolnshire, with its high herb content, will get the job done.

Aprons on!


8 Italian-style sausages (or Toulouse-style at a pinch)

Some good-quality extra-virgin olive oil

2 red peppers

2 yellow peppers

8 large garlic cloves, minced

1 large onion

1 tin of chopped tomatoes (tinned San Marzano tomatoes are excellent)

1 tbsp fresh oregano

200ml red wine

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

Maldon salt & black pepper


First, let’s get the peppers on to stew. The longer and slower they cook, the better the end result.

Quarter the peppers, remove the seeds and membranes, and slice thinly lengthwise.

Peel, halve and thinly slice the onions, and set to cook over a very gentle heat in a good splash of olive oil.

Season with a little salt to help the onions soften. When the onions are cooked completely, which takes about 40 minutes, add the chili flakes, the minced garlic and the peppers, and cook gently until the peppers are almost softened.

Pour in the wine and bubble to reduce until almost evaporated.

Add the tinned tomatoes, and plenty of finely-chopped fresh oregano, plus a little salt and pepper, then simmer the stew for a further few minutes until harmonious and fragrant.

At this point you can store the peppers in the fridge or freezer.

To serve, gently heat the peppers until softly bubbling.

Grill, roast or fry the sausages until cooked, and serve alongside a good dollop of sweet peppers.

A crunchy green salad, with loads of raw spinach, would be brilliant with this.