Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Food for Rainy Days: Spicy White Beans & Greens

Another rainy day yesterday inspired me to make one of my recently discovered meals. Last year my mom, uncharacteristically, saw Emeril on  Good Morning America where he made "Creamy White Beans with Sausage." Shortly after, my mom hosted our gang for a Sunday dinner where she served up this healthy and hearty comfort food. Since then, I have interpreted this recipe several times and each time I am more convinced that it is a true keeper. You know, one of those recipes to put in your recipe box, or at the very least least bookmark on your computer.

Some of the things I love about this dish:
-It's cheap and healthy. You don't get much better than beans when it comes to nutritional bang for your buck.
-It is easy to prepare - one pot, a knife and cutting board are all that's required and the whole thing can be done in about 30 min or less including cooking time. Rachel Ray has nothing on moms of America, right?
-It is easily adapted to whatever ingredients you have on hand.
-It can accommodate a number of food needs - it is naturally gluten free, but can also be vegetarian.

Following Emeril's recipe will yield great results. Here is what I did in the most recent iteration:

  • Finely chop up 3 cloves of garlic, 1 medium onion, 1 or 2 bell peppers depending on their size. I used a medium red bell and one small green bell pepper.
  • Heat a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add 3 or so tablespoons of olive oil. You want to cover the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the veggies to the pot and stir while they sweat. While the vegetables are cooking up, cut up 12 oz which is about 3-4 links of sausage into 1/4-1/2 inch rounds. Use whatever kind of sausage you like. I used Trader Joe's chicken andouille sausage. You could also use chorizo, kielbasa or hot/sweet Italian sausage. Obviously, a spicy sausage will make for a spicier pot of beans. But if you don't have or don't like spicy sausage, you could spice this up in other ways: add some hot pepper flakes, chopped hot peppers of your choosing, hot sauce. You get the idea.
  • Add the sausage to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add 1 can or about 2 cups of diced tomatoes and cook for a few minutes more. 
  • Add 3 cans or about 6 cups of white beans. Cook for a few minutes and then add 3 cups or about 3 big handfuls of spinach and/or arugula.
  • Season with salt, pepper, sage, thyme, parsley and cook for about 10 minutes more until beans are soft and flavorful. 

Serve it up with bread and salad for dinner. Delicious!

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