There are few food vessels more perfect than a bread bowl. The lazy person in me loves that there’s one less dish to wash, and the ever-hungry person in me loves the idea of devouring the crust when the bowl is empty.
Aside from all that, it’s just a proven fact* that a hollowed-out sourdough loaf is the ideal delivery device for rich, savory comfort foods like creamy soups (looking at you, Panera), delicious dips and, as it turns out, Italian sausage.
My grandmother has made this sausage-and-cheese dip every holiday season for as long as I can remember. She came down with the flu this past December and was too sick to host Christmas, so I’ve had a serious craving for the Christmas Bread Bowl ever since. So I dug up her recipe (which I published on Healthy Way to Cook/Fresh Healthy Eats when I was working there) and wanted to share it with you.
The best part about this appetizer is you kind of can’t go wrong. It’s very tough to mess up, and the bread bowl makes what is essentially a pile of meat, cheese and sauce look super fancy and pretty. You can eat it plain, or spread it on the chunks of bread that you scoop out of the loaf (both ways are equally delicious). Be warned though: This stuff disappears really fast, so I’d advise making a couple of batches.
*not actually a scientifically proven fact
Cheesy Sausage Bread Bowl Dip
Makes 6-8 servings
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 pounds turkey sausage, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups tomato sauce
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese (reserve some for top)
1 large round sourdough loaf
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Cook garlic and onions about 5 minutes or until translucent and set aside.
In same skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat for 12-15 minutes or until no pink remains. Set aside. While sausage cooks, hollow out the sourdough loaf and cut the bread into small pieces to serve alongside the dip.
Combine tomato sauce, tomatoes and seasonings in a saucepan. Add garlic, onions and sausage and simmer on low for 5-7 minutes, or until thoroughly heated. Once heated, add mozzarella and stir until melted in.
Remove from heat and spoon dip into bread bowl, topping with more mozzarella.