Wednesday, February 29, 2012

30 minute meal (for real): Sausage with white beans and kale

I recently read an article about how the abundance of cooking shows and "food tv" does both good and bad things to the morale of the home cook. On one hand, the 'round the clock cooking shows often provide great recipes and solid instruction. On the other hand, it often makes us feel insecure if we can't come up with an inspired, expertly executed dish with a handful of ingredients and a ticking clock (ie: the Iron Chef).

One such show that's often encouraged, yet discouraged me, is 30 Minute Meals with Rachel Ray. Rachel's mantra is that anyone can throw together an amazing, multi-course meal (sometimes even with homemade dessert!) in 30 minutes. The problem is that those 30 minutes don't account for all of the pre-rinsing/chopping/measuring that goes into her recipes, nor the fact that she has more ovens and kitchen gadgets than most home cooks. Perhaps most importantly, it ignores the major clean-up that has to occur when one uses multiple pots, pans, and utensils to make that cute little 30 minute meal.

That's why I love this new recipe that I recently made. It was something that I really did throw together in its entirety in under 30 minutes. It's hearty, healthy, and contains only a handful of ingredients. And the whole thing only requires one pan. I know...kale seems kind of scary to the vegetable-averse, and it really took me a long time (I'm talking years) to work up the courage to cook with it. But I promise you it's good in this recipe. My kids even ate it. Here you go...

Sausage with Kale and White Beans


2-3 large links of quality lean sausage (I usually use chicken basil sausage made at our grocery store)
1 large bunch of kale
2 cans of white beans (cannellini or navy beans)
chicken stock
1 clove of garlic, chopped (optional)
white wine (optional)
lemon (optional)


Saute the sausage in a large saute pan or stock pot until nicely browned and cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and slice on the diagonal into 1/2 inch slices.

Separate the kale from the stem and roughly chop into bite-size pieces. Return the pan that the sausage was cooked in to the stove and set at medium-low. Pour in a little bit of stock or white wine, stirring and scraping with a wooden spoon until the browned bits come up from the bottom. Add the kale leaves to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to wilt. Add the beans, some chopped garlic, and enough stock to make it slightly soupy without actually being soup. Continue cooking until the beans and kale are soft. Add some salt to taste. If you want to boost the flavor a bit, you can also squeeze in a little lemon juice and/or add a splash of white wine.

Add the sausage slices back into the pan until everything is warmed through. Serve in a bowl with, of course, some crusty bread.

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