The addition of two flavorful proteins to a hearty dose of vegetables makes this colorful, one-pan meal a healthy favorite in our house. The recipe’s inherent flexibility also means that it’s easy to use what you have on hand.
Getting your daily dose of vegetables has never been so effortless and enjoyable!
Loaded with colorful vegetables, this hearty skillet meal includes two sources of protein, which provide flavor interest and true staying power. In other words, you won’t be hungry in an hour!
When I first starting making this sort of green-based meal years ago, I never expected it would be so well received by my family. My boys were young and one was rather picky at the time. Ultimately, the taste won them over, but I think it was the rainbow of colors that begged them to take the first bite－without so much as a raised eyebrow.
Lately, I’ve been making a batch of my Homemade Breakfast Sausage Patties, but instead of forming patties, I freeze the meat in 8-ounce bulk packages. (I press the portions into somewhat thin rectangles for easy stacking and quick thawing.)
In this recipe, basic spices are added to ground pork or turkey in a way that replicates the flavor of traditional sausage. It’s an excellent option for those who may be looking to reduce fat, as you can use lean ground meat, or avoid the nitrites and nitrates that often accompany traditional sausage.
Those who wish to avoid meat altogether could use one of the widely available plant-based alternatives. Whichever type of sausage you choose for this meal, having a right-size package or two in the freezer always feels like an added convenience.
The flexibility of this recipe extends to the greens and other vegetables. Earlier this summer, I used a broader variety of dark leafy greens than I ever had before, as our weekly farm boxes included the likes of pea, radish, and beet greens, carrot tops, and arugula.
Kale tends to be my go-to, but Swiss chard, spinach, and even shredded Brussels sprouts may be used instead. A mix is always encouraged－plus, mixing is a great way to experiment with greens you may not be accustomed to using. And if you have a few ounces more than the recipe calls for, go ahead and add them. What looks like a mountain of fresh greens inevitably cooks down to a far smaller quantity.
Throughout the summer months, I like to thickly grate a zucchini and julienne a small bell pepper, but onions, mushrooms, and really any of your favorite vegetables may be added. (Slivered snow peas or a leftover ear of corn perhaps?) To accommodate vegetables with a longer cooking time, you may wish to sauté them in a little olive oil first, remove to a plate, and then proceed with the sausage and so on, stirring the cooked veggies back into the pan before adding the eggs. You may even stir in previously roasted, grilled, or blanched veggies.
The options are nearly endless.
Ultimately, the sausage, zucchini, and remaining ingredients provide far more interest and heft to what is essentially a green-based meal. If you think of greens like kale as too chewy, this may help. Also, slicing the greens very thinly and perpendicular to the stem (and after the tough stems have been stripped away) will make them easier to chew. So will cooking them a few extra minutes.
The modest amount of sausage really does provide consistent flavor throughout this dish, and I think it’s what won over the meat lovers in my family all those years ago. At the end, eggs quickly cook in the pan, and the yolk serves as a sauce of sorts. That said, if any one ingredient is off limits, remember that everything in this meal is flexible.
To keep the meal vegan, for example, use a plant-based sausage alternative, skip the eggs, and sprinkle the finished dish with nutritional yeast. Conversely, if you’re not looking to keep things vegan, a dusting of Parmesan cheese or crumbled feta at the end adds a little something extra. Want even more protein? Stir in a cup or so of cooked beans.
I tend to keep the spices simple, but again, you may sprinkle with whatever appeals to you. Similarly, fresh herbs are fair game when you have them on hand.
- ½ pound sausage (pork, turkey or plant-based－I often use this homemade option), bulk or removed from casings
- Olive oil
- 1 medium (about 8 ounces) zucchini or summer squash, thickly grated or julienned
- 1 small bell pepper, julienned (color of choice or a mix)
- 1 large (~10-12 ounces) bunch kale, tough stems stripped away and sliced into thin strips or chopped (may mix and match dark leafy greens of choice)
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1-2 eggs per person, according to appetite
- Optional for serving: Chopped avocado; cooked quinoa, rice, or grain of choice; freshly grated Parmesan, crumbled feta, or your favorite cheese; chopped nuts and/or seeds; crusty bread or roll
In a large, lightly oiled skillet (I use my 12-inch cast iron skillet), sauté the sausage over medium-high heat until beginning to brown, crumbling as you go. (Look for some nice golden color, but it doesn’t have to be cooked through yet.) Drizzle in a tablespoon of olive oil (and a sprinkling of spice, if using – see notes), and add the zucchini and bell pepper. Spread into an even layer along with the sausage, and sear the mixture for approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and spreading back out, or until cooked to your liking. (If your skillet becomes dry, add another drizzle of olive oil.)
Season with a little salt and pepper, and then add the kale in batches, tossing gently to rotate the top layer down. As the kale wilts, add more until you have added it all to the pan. At this point I drizzle in another tablespoon or so of olive oil and add another sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook, tossing the mixture as you go, until the kale is wilted. Once the kale is tender, make an indentation for each egg, and crack an egg into each one. Cook until the eggs are set to your liking. If you prefer a firmer top, cover the pan for a minute or two or run briefly under the broiler, watching closely to avoid burning. Optionally, you could scramble the eggs into the vegetable mixture, if preferred.
Remove the pan from the heat and serve as is or over optional cooked grain of choice. We often serve over quinoa and top with chopped avocado and salted pumpkin seeds. YUM!
Spices are a delightful addition. Lately I’ve been sprinkling a ½ teaspoon or so of smoked paprika in with the earlier veggies and a drizzle of olive oil. Ground cumin (or cumin seeds if you have them) are lovely, too. It’s hard to go wrong with any spice you enjoy.