Everyone had been told to batten down the hatches, so we did. Buying a whopping two days worth of dinners and lunches at once. Persephone is a daily grocery shopper. It is somewhat a product of my Europhile nature, as well as, and perhaps more importantly, a morning activity with Cherub. The life of a SAHG (stay at home goddess) is nothing, if not glamorous. Besides, who knows what I will want to cook for dinner? I just can’t muster a week’s menu. I applaud those who can, but… Oh! Excuse me, this was a major digression. Perhaps it’s the lack of adult conversation as well. Ahem. Moving on.
There are few things that seem to go better together with a fennel spiced sausage than some simple creamy white beans. Not the kind from a can; the kind that take a couple of hours on very low heat, simmering with olive oil, garlic, carrots, bay, thyme. Polenta comes in a very close second for me. Those beans, paired with sausages braised with onions and served on top of a bit of cabbage with fried capers, make for a bowl of sustenance good enough to fend off any nasty old ice storm. And the leftovers are perfect for tea the next day.
White Beans with Italian Sausages and Cabbage, serves three, with leftovers
For the beans:
1 16 oz bag of dried white beans, (Cannellini or Great Northern)
1 slice of bacon, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely diced
1/4 medium onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3 T white wine or vermouth
Olive oil, salt and pepper
Soak the beans in cold water for as long as you’ve got time. These were soaked for several hours in the morning. But I have also cooked beans without soaking them at all, they just take a bit longer to cook. In a large pot, drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil into a pan that is over medium low heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Add in the carrot and onion and cook until soft, but not brown, add in the garlic and thyme cook for another minute. Pour in the wine or vermouth and scrape the bottom of pot to get all the fond up. Tip in the drained and rinsed beans, and add enough water to cover the beans by two inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender (cooking times will vary, as I stated above).
For the Sausages:
5 sweet or hot Italian sausages (or some combination of the two), in this case, sausages were from Whole Foods meat case
1/2 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves smashed, paper removed
4 sprigs fresh thyme
In a large, hot pan, add olive oil and the sausages. Cook until browned evenly, then add onion, garlic and thyme and 1 cup of water. Reduce heat to low and cover for 20 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally and adding water a tablespoon at a time, if necessary. Slice sausages into thirds and return to pan with a ladleful of the cooking liquid from the beans and reduce to a gravy consistency.
To serve place a pile of sauteed cabbage (1/2 small cabbage, thinly sliced, in a pan with olive oil, a tablespoon of drained capers, saute then add 3 to 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper; cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently until tender), a spoon of the beans and a few pieces of sausage piled on top.
Another thought for leftovers: combine the cabbage with the beans and puree to make an incredible soup, adding a bit of water to thin if necessary.
Playlist included White Nights by Oh Land. ( @OhLandMusic )