The Sausage Roll and I had a near tumultuous relationship throughout my childhood. Having grown up in Perth, Australia, sausage rolls were a staple snack/lunch; something that was ever present in school, at birthday parties, and at daycare. These rolls were often processed and far from healthy. My parents couldn’t quite see the appeal of mystery mincemeat wrapped in pastry, and yet despite their questionable nutrition, sausage rolls remained a childhood school lunch favorite for me. I remember rebelling against my packed lunch once in Grade 4 and begging the tuck shop (the equivalent of an Australian cafeteria) ladies to give me a sausage roll. I had no lunch money at school that day and within the week, my teacher had sent a note home with me saying that I had owed the school tuck shop $5. I remember my mum being so sad that day, she thought that I had eaten the lunch that was packed and was so hungry I needed a second lunch as well. She told me that if I was truly hungry, I could have just told her how I felt.
I grew up in a large family, with weekly meals at our grandma’s house. At any one time, there would be 30 or so people crowding around a singular dining table. My grandparents loved to have people over and feed them well; as kids - the youngest generation- we were expected to eat quickly to make room for the adults at the table, and waste nothing. Having leftover grains of rice in our bowls, and not eating all meat cleanly off the bone was called out and frowned upon. The adults would always tease us by saying that if we didn’t finish our leftovers, the amount of food left in our bowls would one day appear on our husband/wives faces in the form of acne and scars.
Scare tactics aside, I had a very distinct phase in my childhood where I was extremely particular about what I liked to eat, rotating between the 3 main food groups of chicken, pasta and noodles. Like most kids, I had a near-zero affinity with vegetables and my parents couldn’t wrap their heads around why I was being so “choosy”. It wasn’t until I entered high school that I started being more adventurous with my food; I ate lamb for the first time in my teens, started enjoying raw tomatoes and strawberries, but I didn’t truly unlock the potential of a good quality, freshly cracked black pepper until my early twenties.
The more I started to cook for myself after moving away from Australia, the more I wanted to navigate around my food nostalgia whilst trying to strike a balance between inexpensive and healthy meals. I’ve bolstered my sausage roll filling with carrot and zucchini in this recipe, but peas, potato, mushroom, spinach and even kale work too. This was the recipe that I wished that my younger self had; made from scratch and stuffed with vegetables.