Adventures in the Kitchen with Michelle, Lil’ Itly Healthier Hoagie

Who doesn’t love street food? Or fair and flea market food? It’s all really the same hot n’ greasiness. Just what you need when you’ve gone too long without a bite, because your out running around. Not to mention the smell of grilled sausages and peppers wafting through the air calling you. Oh, it’s good – it’s really good. Maybe not necessarily good for you though. Let’s work on that.

Recently, I ran across a recipe from Mario Batali (so you know it’s gotta be great) for ‘Spicy Stewed Sausage with Three Peppers’. It was listed as a ‘healthy’ recipe and I agreed, but as I read through it I knew my guys (even my Cactus Man) wouldn’t eat 4 serranos and a habanero in anything. And they don’t really like green peppers either (I know, c r a z y!!). Before I knew it, I had marked up the printed recipe so much that I could probably call it my own. But I still have to thank Mario for the fabulous idea. So, here’s my version of a bite of Lil’Itly street food.

Lil’Itly Healthier Hoagie


Step 1: Gather the goods.

The Goodies

1 pk Turkey Sausage, fresh, mild or sweet Italian (ours is 1.25lb)

1 pk Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage (12 oz)

(basically, 2 pounds of a mixed turkey and chicken sausage – however yours works out best)

2 Red Peppers, chopped

1 Orange Pepper, chopped

1 Yellow Pepper, chopped

1 Jalapeño Pepper, seeded and diced fine

1 Fennel Bulb, cored, sliced thin

1 Red Onion, chopped

1 Cup Red Wine, dry

Salt & Pepper

Optional : Romano Cheese, grated and added at the end or Provolone slices on the hoagie

Step 2:

Hot Hot Jalapeno

Chop those veggies. I did a kinda large slice, as you’d find at the street vendors grill. Another tip: I use the bag the jalapeño came in to hold it down while I seed and chop it. If you’ve ever chopped one with bare hands and then rubbed your eyes, you’ll understand why this is a mistake that is only made once.

Step 3:

Chopped Veggies

Look how pretty!

Step 4:

Sausages in the Pan

Get the fresh sausages in the pan on about medium-medium/low heat, (this is a 4qt) but first prick them with a fork so they don’t pop. When they’re nearly done (and about the time the veggies are ready to go), add the chicken sausages. They already cooked so they don’t need the extra time, but prick them too. Don’t worry about the brown stuff in the pan, you’ll need that later.

Step 5:

Step 5

Once they’re all browned, remove the sausages and set aside. Then add the veggies with a pinch of salt & pepper to the pan. Oh, see that thing on the back burner – a splatter screen, it’s the best $15 you will ever spend.

Step 6:

Cooked veges

Get those veggies movin’. Have you noticed I haven’t called for even a drop of oil? Because you won’t need it. The juice from the peppers will make a liquid in the bottom of the pan that loosens the fond and gets the gravy going. (I could give you a photo, but I can’t stir AND work the camera! – I need a third hand!)

Step 7:

Pour the wine in

Now that the veggies are softened a bit, but not mushy, add in the wine, and the sausages. No, you may NOT sub beer for the wine!

Step 7a:


Ooooo, get ‘em nestled in nice. Aaahhhh – can you smell that?! Oh, you can’t – sorry. Well, get a lid on them and let ‘em cook another 15 min or so. Then, get your buns ready.


Finale, Yum

Wow – like straight from a food truck near you! This is some seriously good eats here – worth it to splurge on eating a real hoagie roll. The guys, who put cheese on theirs, were on their second ones when they bothered to ask, ‘ Wait, is this turkey sausage??’ They mainly asked because I was eating one – and I’d never eat ‘football food’ with them. The juice, or jus, in the bottom of the pan is fabulous. I spooned some out over my hoagie, and it soaked into the bread….OMG! The single jalapeño gives a bite without taking your head off, and even adds a ‘green’ pepper flavor. The colored peppers are so sweet and juicy along with the red onion, and the fennel gives a sausage-spice extra punch – it’s perfect. Not to mention it looks absolutely delicious. You have to try this. And I know you will, because this is big flavor for minimal calories/fat that the whole family will devour.

And the next time you make it, cut up the sausages and put it all over pasta – gasp!


Michelle Beal

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