Friday, September 14, 2007

Beans, Greens, and Sausage

Some kids are picky about meat. Not mine. I have to protect bacon in the frying pan to keep little fingers from getting burnt as they try to swipe it. And when I bought sausage the other day at the fancy butcher counter, my 8-year old son was salivating at sight of the raw steaks. "And 20 steaks," he said in a high-pitched voice to the butcher, trying to pass it off as my order. We're not squeamish about meat at my place.

Naturally, sausage is an easy sell. I just say the magic words: "It's like bacon."

This sausage-and-beans-and-greens dish is a natural for the mothership method. I made it as a pasta dish, but it could easily do without. And I used white beans, although I've used chickpeas in the past.

The sausage had a little bit of spice in it, but my resourceful daughter made herself a little satellite dish of ketchup for dipping, and the heat factor was solved.

1 lb sweet Italian sausage
1 can or small carton white beans, cooked
1/2 cup olive oil
1 small can plum tomatoes (or half of a large can), chopped, juice reserved
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale or other hearty green, stems removed, chopped
1/2 lb pasta, such as gemelli or penne
Hard grating cheese, such as Asiago or Parmesan
Salt and pepper

Put the pasta water on to boil and begin preparing pasta.

In a medium-sized skillet, brown the sausage on all sides.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, begin cooking the onions. When they have begun to soften, add the garlic. A few minutes later, before the garlic has begun to brown, add the tomatoes, with their juice, and the beans.

Transfer the sausage into the skillet. Add the kale, too, but keep it to one side of the skillet for easy removal later. Cover and cook until the kale is thoroughly steamed, and the sausage is cooked through.

Slice the sausage into bite-sized pieces. Serve in separate bowls: the kale, the sausage, the pasta, and the tomato-bean mixture. Make accessible the grated cheese, salt and pepper. Allow each diner to assemble plates as desired.


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