Delish Dinner in a Dash: Broccoli and Sausage Sauté

BroccoliSausageSaute[Jump right to the recipe: Broccoli and Sausage Sauté]

Many an afternoon as I’m driving home from work I have this conversation with myself:

“Self, I’m tired but I know I should make dinner. I can make a dinner that tastes better and is better for us than we’ll get in any take-out situation.”

“Why don’t you go out?”

“Again? That would be three times this week and there are better ways to spend that money, say on a new pair of shoes, or I suppose a college fund.”

“So cook something – just make it a quick something.”

“But I’m tired.” [insert whiney rant here] “We’re going out.”

This scenario is often self-induced because I love to spend a lot of time in my kitchen cooking up really fun dishes. It’s my creative outlet and well, I often let my creativity get the best of me which results in dishes that take much to long to prepare. I’m also very much against using packaged products and processed food with any regularity, so “convenience” foods don’t do me much good. Even so, I know that it’s possible to cook a great meal made from (mostly) whole foods in a reasonable amount of time and without a ton of effort (or dirty dishes).

Dinner in a Dash: Quick, Easy, and Uber-Tasty

I am on a mission. I’m going to create a collection of meals that I (and you) can make in 20 minutes, 30 minutes max, that are so easy and tasty they’ll cry out “Cook me!” and will overcome the knee-jerk reaction to just go out when I’m tired and cranky. These will all also be healthy and not rely solely on big carbs like pasta and rice for bulk and speed. Veggies will play a big role and they will be (for the most part) Weight Watchers points friendly. Finally, they will also be family friendly. I’m sure I’ll learn more lessons as I put the collection together, but my current thinking is the following trends will emerge:

  • Ingredient quality will be critical. The fastest path I know to great flavor is to start with great ingredients. Fresh mozzarella, handmade sausage, in-season produce, and grass-fed beef are just a few of the foods I expect to use.
  • Lean, quick-cooking cuts of meat are my friend. Pork tenderloin, flank steak, chicken breasts and thighs, and lamb t-bones all fit this bill. Not only are they some of the healthiest options, they are some of the quickest to prepare. For many of these I can also source from local ranchers and farmers, which helps my overall goal to use more ingredients from local sources but also contributes to the “big flavors” trend.
  • A freezer full of pre-prepped food is a good thing. I’m a big fan of making extras of slow-cooking foods like braised chicken thighs and chile to have more for later. To keep the family from getting too tired of these though, I’ll plan to use them in new and interesting ways.
  • Fewer ingredients are better. This is often true for many dishes because too many ingredients can over-complicate the flavor profile. When you’re trying to prep and cook a meal quickly, the fewer ingredients to fetch and produce the better.
  • Select pre-prepared foods very carefully. I’m not against using every prepared food, although I do try to stay away from the center aisles of the grocery store as much as I practically can. However, I’ve found that quality prepared foods like whole wheat pitas, chorizo, and of fish crusts can be made it the same ways I would make them and save me quite a bit of time. I’m also lucky enough to have access to Central Market and Whole Foods locally, both of which offer a great collection of fresh pre-prepped food. If you’re not local to Austin, I’d recommend hunting around your own town to find places the offer similar fresh pre-prepped food.

Friday Night Test Drive

If I looked back through my credit card receipts I’d find that we eat out more on Friday nights than any other, largely because the “I’m tired” conversation is further compounded by the fact that it’s the end of the week and I’m ready for some R&R. I’m not alone of course, so barring smart planning, getting a table on a Friday night can be beyond difficult. I decided last Friday night that I would test out the theory that I could whip up something so great yet so easy that I wouldn’t be tempted to just give up the ghost and call for reservations.

It’s been raining in Austin, a steady downpour that we very desperately need, and it’s September, so I found myself thinking of comfort food. I wanted a meal with deep, rich flavors and a bit of heft. My freezer is currently bereft of chili, a common comfort food I could easily turn into a frito pie or an inventive pizza, and foods like meatloaf and pot roast take much too long. I decided instead to take advantage of the freshly made sausage at my local Central Market. They regularly have 10-20 different flavors hand-made by the butchers every day using seasonal meats and ingredients. I’ve found that SAMs Club has similar sausages although not in quite the variety, but barring access to freshly made sausages, these might be a good solution. After initially thinking of doing sausage, peppers, and onions, I remembered instead that I had a whole slew o’ broccolini in my fridge and I had my dish. The sausages bring huge flavor to the party and the broccolini is hearty and healthy. I had the whole dish ready in 20 minutes and it was a hit. An auspicious start to my mission, if I do say so myself.

Recipe: Broccoli and Sausage Sauté


  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Weight Watchers™ Points: 5*


  • Cooking spray
  • 4 links fresh sausage (approximately 1 lb.)
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • 1 lb. broccolini, tough ends removed.
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Shaved parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)


  1. Spray a non-stick pan with a tight fitting lid with the cooking spray. Heat over medium-high until very hot. Brown the sausages on all sides.
  2. Add the chicken broth to the pan, cover, and reduce to simmer. Poach until cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  3. While the sausage cooks, put the broccoli in a glass baking dish with a splash of water (1 – 2 Tbsp.) and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes or until crisp tender.
  4. When the sausages are cooked, move them to a cutting board and slice into 1 inch circles.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high-heat. Add the shallot and sauté for 30 seconds until soft.
  6. Add the steamed broccoli, season lightly with salt and pepper, add the red pepper flakes, and toss to combine. Sautee for 1 minute longer.
  7. Add the sliced sausage and toss one last time to combine.
  8. Dish into 4 serving bowls and top with a few shavings of cheese.
  9. Serve with crusty bread or foccacia.

Recipe for Success

  • For this recipe I used mild Italian pork sausage and a chicken sausage with basil and parmesan. You could use a combination of hot and mild Italian sausage, or even go in a completely different direction and use a smoked sausage or light chicken and apple sausage.
  • I used broccolini which is milder than broccoli for this dish. You could easily use regularly broccoli or even broccoli rabe instead.
  • You can easily stir some cooked pasta into this recipe to make it a bit bulkier and even stretch the base ingredients to serve 6, as with this Giada De Laurentiis recipe. This will add to the Weight Watchers points by a couple or three, but you could mitigate that a bit by using whole wheat pasta and using turkey sausage instead of pork sausage.
  • I poached the sausage in chicken broth, but you could just as easily use white wine or even a hearty red wine for beef or pork sausage.

*Points Details

  • The final points tally on this recipe depends largely on the sausage that you use. I calculated the points for this recipe using the “low-fat sausage, less than 1 g. fat per ounce” option in the points calculator. You may want to recalculate the points based on the sausage that you can get.

Broccoli Raab on FoodistaMore about broccoli varieties


  1. I love this idea! can’t wait for the next recipe. I just started weight watchers, but I’m already sick of boneless skinless chicken breasts – this is a great dinner plan!

  2. My mouth is watering. I really shouldn’t have read this at 5 p.m. Oh well, in an hour I’ll be at Paggi House talking about the fact that I should REALLY cook more 🙂

  3. A quick fix recipe is always good to have in the arsenal. Thanks for sharing this one!


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