By David Tanis

New York Times News Service

In a hurry for dinner? Last-minute guests, perhaps, or just no time to dither? You’ve worked all day, and you want something simple and relatively quick to prepare. You’re not above ordering in, but, given the cost of takeout and the inevitable soggy-steamy contents of the delivered goods, you would prefer to cook something.

You like to cook, but tonight it has to be easy. The solution? Head to your nearest Italian deli or butcher shop for sausages — good, tasty pork sausages seasoned with fennel seeds. Alternatively, you could dash to the supermarket and zip through the 10-items-or-fewer express lane.

Delis or butcher shops are more likely to have fresh, house-made sausages. Supermarkets might also have good ones, but many carry those vacuum-packed precooked sausages or ones containing preservatives and “natural flavorings.” If you like spicy sausages, ask for the hot ones; otherwise get the sweet. The only difference is the addition of crushed red pepper.

The classic combination of sausage and peppers needs no introduction. A pan of colorful sliced bell peppers, briskly sautéed in olive oil with onions, is perfectly delicious and takes mere minutes. A hint of garlic and a splash of red wine vinegar added toward the end of cooking are nice enhancements — we’re going for big flavor with minimal fuss.

Now, as for how to cook the sausages, there are many methods. Some people prefer to cook them in a frying pan over medium heat, turning them every few minutes and letting them brown slowly, or to roast them in a medium oven. However, to get the meal on the table quickly, I like to simmer them gently for about five minutes, then let them steep in the pot off the heat. This ensures they will be fully cooked. Then, I briefly brown them in a skillet. Whatever way you cook yours, be sure to prick them all over with a skewer first, to prevent them from breaking open. A burst sausage, while edible, always looks sad.

I can’t resist adding a sunny-side-up egg, fried in olive oil, to complement the sausage and peppers and to add richness. It’s not necessary, but it’s completely welcome. You won’t spend more than a half-hour on this meal, which is meant for dinner, but you may find it’s just the thing for breakfast or lunch as well.

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