When the temperature gets cooler outside, there's a cozy comfort in feasting on a warm, savoury dinner roasted on a sheet pan, all browned and soft with crispy bits to nibble on. This Bratwurst Bake with flavourful German sausages tucked amid a tangle of tender, caramelized, Spanish Sweet Onion slices, juicy red grapes, and crunchy bits of nuts, napped with a sweet-tangy mustard glaze, is the kind of dinner to make you nestle in closer and sigh with delicious anticipation. (Skip to recipe.)
Thanks to Idaho-Eastern Oregon Spanish Sweet Onions for sponsoring this post so I could share this tasty recipe with you and tell you about one of my favourite vegetables to use in my recipes.
Don't you just love that first warm, cozy feeling when winter arrives? It's still fresh and new and filled with the promise of delicious cocooning, sipping warm drinks as we curl up in a chair with fuzzy slippers and a warm blanket, the aromas of holiday baking, candles flickering on early-darkening evenings, and afternoon walks in sparkling snow (we won't think of how we feel by March and April, when all this thrill has long worn off).
We've had our first snowfall which melted, then we got a short warm spell as a reprieve, and now it seems that winter has come to stay. She moved in with a blizzard last Saturday, and has settled herself comfortably upon us. Today the snow has been swirling down all day, turning the world into a magical winter wonderland.
But it's okay. The garden is all harvested and vegetables are stored, flowerbeds are put to rest, and an extra layer of straw has been added to the chicken coop and Pippa's bed. I'm thinking of spice cakes and cookies, creamy autumn soups, long slow savoury braises, and golden caramelized roasted root vegetables.
One vegetable I can't grow in my garden is the amazing Idaho-Eastern Oregon Spanish Sweet Onion. First of all, I'm not in the right region and don't have the terroir that produces these unique and delicious onions. The rich volcanic soils along Idaho/Oregon’s Snake River Valley and dry climate produce some of the finest onions in the world, with a unique combination of mild flavour, large size, and tight, dry skins. Secondly, I don't have the knowledge and experience of the farmers who own the family farms (many of them third and fourth generation) on which these onions are grown. Idaho-Eastern Oregon Spanish Sweets have never been recalled, so look for them when you shop. These farmers have some of the most stringent growing and storing practices around. I always stock up when I find them in the supermarkets from mid-October to March. (They keep for up to 4 weeks if stored in a basket or mesh bag with good air circulation.)
We love the Spanish Sweets raw or cooked, but they're especially delicious when roasted. These onions contain more sugar and less water than sweet onions so they are ideal for caramelizing, sautéing, and grilling. They keep their shape and don't get mushy - they can handle the heat (so they get to stay in the kitchen!)
Roasting thick rings of Spanish Sweets along with plump bratwurst and the sweet, juicy tang of red grapes produces a simple and unforgettable meal. Everything is given a touch of balsamic-honey glaze and topped with a smattering of roasted almonds for little pops of crunch. This meal makes me happy. I like to serve it with plain boiled or roasted potatoes, or just some good bread and lashings of butter.
Spanish Sweets, Grapes & Bratwurst Make a Scrumptious Dinner
Here's how to do it.
Grab yourself a couple large, firm Spanish Sweets. Those babies are big like baseballs! Peel them and cut them into thick slices.
Put them onto a large sheet pan and separate the slices into rings. (I love this part - it gives the same satisfaction as popping bubble wrap.)
Now drizzle with olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper, and toss to coat them all. Add a few fresh thyme sprigs if you have them.
Pop the pan into the oven at high heat to start softening and caramelizing. Halfway through, pull them out, add the grapes, nuts, and glaze, and pop them back into the oven to get even more brown and delicious.
Look at that glorious pan full of golden onions, toasty sausages, and soft plump grapes.
It's time to tuck in.
Stock up on some of these lovely Spanish Sweets to make your meals special in the coming season. They make any meal better as they complement, rather than overwhelm, dishes. I can't wait to use them in so much more of my cooking.
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Kitchen Frau Notes: Bratwurst comes smoked and unsmoked. For this dish you want the raw, unsmoked sausages. Or substitute with another favourite type of sausage.
Bratwurst Bake with Spanish Sweet Onions & Grapes
Serves 4 Bake time: 45 minutes
- 2 large Idaho-Eastern Oregon Spanish Sweet Onions (1½ lbs/700 g total weight or more)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 5 to 6 bratwurst links, unsmoked (1- 1¼ lbs/450 - 500 g)
- 2 cups (350 g) seedless red grapes, removed from the stems
- ¼ cup (45 g) coarsely chopped almonds or walnuts
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
Peel the Spanish Sweets and cut them crosswise into thick slices, about pencil-thick, discarding the root and stem ends. Pile the onion slices onto a large half-sheet baking pan; (18 in × 13 in /460 mm × 330 mm), or two 9 in × 13 in pans (230 mm × 330 mm). If you crowd them into a pan that's too small, the onions and bratwurst will steam rather than caramelize and turn golden brown.
Separate the onion slices into rings. Drizzle the rings of Spanish Sweets in the pan with the olive oil and sprinkle them with the thyme leaves, salt, and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper. Use your hands to gently toss the onions until they are all coated with the oil, then spread them out evenly in the pan.
Cut the each bratwurst link in half with a diagonal cut and tuck the sausage halves in among the onion rings.
Bake for 20 minutes.
While the bratwurst and Spanish Sweets are roasting, remove the grapes from their stems, chop the nuts, and make the glaze: in a small spouted measuring cup or bowl, stir together the balsamic vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon of black pepper until they are smoothly combined.
Remove the baking sheet with the roasting onions and bratwurst from the oven, and turn the heat down to 400°F (200°C).
Add the grapes to the pan and drizzle the glaze over everything, scraping every last bit of glaze from the cup with a spatula. With two forks, gently toss all the ingredients on the pan to coat the Spanish Sweets and grapes with the glaze. Spread everything evenly back out again, turning the sausages if they've gotten brown on the bottom.
Sprinkle the chopped nuts over everything.
Bake at 400°F (200°C) for another 20-25 minutes, until the sausages are lightly browned and the Spanish Sweets are golden and caramelized in spots.
Serve with additional mustard, boiled potatoes or whole grain bread and butter, and a green salad.
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