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Italian white bean sausage and kale stew

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Beyond the Peel

(Read caption) This is a simple stew that can do many jobs. Serve it with some crusty bread for lunch or dinner, or even breakfast with a poached egg on top.

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With the spring season on its way and new opportunities and experiences ahead, its time to clean out the freezer and use up odds and ends. Not the most fun, but definitely a creative process. I have a tendency to freeze little bits of things that I know would come in handy later.

I used up a few tablespoons of frozen tomato paste to make homemade spicy ketchup, and one chili in Adobo sauce (yes I froze a single chili, don’t laugh) to make some yummy salsa. I’ve had some fun with some frozen red quinoa, making salads and poached eggs on quinoa.

Digging through the freezer I came across a gorgeous pack of hot Italian sausages. How could I have forgotten them?! Our local butcher (no antibiotics, no hormones, grass-fed, organic-free-range awesomeness) makes these delicious sausages with no fillers and uses real casings. The flavor is exceptional. And to be honest, they don’t last long in our house. Mostly because of this stew.

I am in love with this simple stew. Please don’t let the simplicity of the ingredients discourage you from trying it. It’s more than the sum of all its parts!

We make this stew fairly often. It’s one of my favorites. But there’s a catch. The stew is only as good as the sausage. Since the flavor comes from the spices used in the sausage it is important to use good quality meat with great flavor.

This stew is not only dead simple but I actually love it for any meal of the day. We’ve all heard of breakfast for supper, but why not supper for breakfast? Serve the leftovers with a poached egg for breakfast. Take the leftovers and add more stock to stretch it out and make soup (we’ve stretched 1 cup of leftovers into soup for two). Of course it’s one of those things that gets better after day two so go ahead and double the recipe. This also freezes great for dinners on the fly.

The other reason I love this stew is that it can be easily made into something new by adding or changing a few ingredients. See variations in the notes below.

Italian white bean sausage and kale stew

2 onions, sliced

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3 garlic cloves minced

4 sausages (hot or mild Italian), about 1 pound, turkey or pork

3 cups cooked white beans

3 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 bunch of Swiss chard or kale (spinach works, too)

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh thyme to garnish

In a large skillet, over medium high heat, sauté onions with olive oil for 3 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile slice the sausages into 1/2-inch pieces. Add the garlic and the sausage meat to the pan and cook until the sausage meat is almost cooked through. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the beans, stock and thyme. Cook for 15 minutes.

Using the back of a spoon or a potato masher, mash some of the white beans (leave some whole) to thicken the stock. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This will depend on the stock you used and the flavor of the sausage. Clean the chard and chop into 1 inch strips (if you’re using kale, remove the tough spine). Add the chard to the pot and cook until wilted (about two to five minutes). Serve as is, or with crusty bread, a poached egg or a dollop of sour cream.

My favorite supper for breakfast: Serve over a crusty toast with a poached egg on top. Adding only enough liquid to the bowl to soften the bread.

Variations:

-Reduce stock to 2 cups and add 4 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes (or one 796 ml can).

-Add 1/4 cup of sour cream to the sauce for a creamy treat.

-Substitute shredded leftover roasted chicken meat for the sausage for a healthier and lighter meal

-Change the bean to black eyed peas or lima beans for a different flavor and texture.

-Add 2 cups of sliced zucchini

-Substitute chorizo sausage and add two chilies in Adobo sauce. Add 4 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of tomato paste at the same time as the beans for a “chili” on the fly. This is also a great way of making leftovers look like a completely different meal.


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