Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sausage, Kale, & White Bean Rotini

Sauté the onions.
We always want what we can't have.
When it's summer and 100°, I want cool autumn weather and hearty comfort food. When it's 50° and raining for the 40th day in a row, I want summer sunshine and red ripe tomatoes.
Somehow my stars aligned, and what I actually wanted was exactly what the weather called for: peasant food on a damp and chilly day. I had a taste for beans & greens, but not the southern standard version (black-eyed peas and collards). This is not really a pasta fagioli, because of the greens, but it is a close relation. The flavors are extremely straightforward, and there's not much in the way of spices or seasoning−there's nothing to be gained here by turning to the spice rack and throwing stuff into the pot (and this is coming from someone who routinely turns to the spice rack and starts throwing stuff into the pot just for the fun of it).

As long as you don't truly believe that greens need to be cooked and cooked and cooked for hours and hours and hours, this is actually a quick weeknight supper. It can be ready in about 30 minutes (including the time it takes to toss a salad and crack open a bottle of wine).

Brown the sausage.
What You Need
  • 350g (12 oz) whole wheat rotini
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, quartered and sliced thinly
  • 350g (12 oz) smoked sausage, sliced
  • 450 g (16 oz) fresh kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 450g (16 oz) can cannnellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 250 ml (1 cup) chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
Steam the kale.
What You Do
  1. Set a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Salt it very generously.
  2. While you wait for the water to boil, open a bottle of wine. Have a glass while you sauté the onion in the olive oil. Use the biggest dutch oven you own.
  3. When the onion is translucent, and starting to turn golden, add the sliced sausage. Let the sausage sit without stirring long enough to brown a bit.
  4. Add the kale, pour in the chicken broth. Cover and let the greens steam (no peeking) until the pasta is ready.
  5. Add the cannellini beans.
  6. You did not forget the pasta, did you? The water should be boiling by now, so cook the pasta, stirring occasionally, until it is al dente (or just a tiny bit short of al dente).
  7. Drain the pasta. While it drains, add the cannelini beans to the sausage and greens. Add the drained pasta and mix everything together gently.
  8. Let the mixture cook for about 5 minutes. Make sure the beans are heated through, and if the dish begins to seem dry, add a bit more broth. You should not have soupy liquid, but the dish should be moist.
  9. Taste for salt and pepper. Add what you think it needs.
What You Eat
You ought to be able to feed six people. If all you eat is pasta, this may only feed three or four. But add a nice side salad, and maybe a slice of crusty bread, and stretch it to six servings. Each serving will have:
Calories 446 Protein 18g Vitamin B6 23%
Fat 20g Vitamin A 233% Folate 15%
Saturated Fat 6.1g Vitamin C 153% Vitamin B12 6.8%
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.0g Calcium 14% Pantothenic Acid 10%
Monounsaturated Fat 8.7g Iron 22% Phosphorus 27%
Cholesterol 33mg Vitamin D 6.2% Magnesium 29%
Sodium 1100mg Vitamin E 2.0% Zinc 16%
Potassium 605mg Thiamin 32% Copper 27%
Carbohydrate 54g Riboflavin 15% Selenium 2.3%
Fiber 6.6g Niacin 28% Manganese 121%
Sugars 0.83g

What You Learn
  • Please use whole wheat pasta. It totally makes this dish. If you cannot bear all that whole wheat goodness, try a brand that is semi-whole wheat.
  • Please feel free to add garlic. I did not, simply because I did not feel like it. But this particular dish can absolutely stand up to two or three cloves sautéed with the onions.
  • Please don't overcook your greens. I know it's a southern tradition to cook greens until they are no longer green, but it's not necessary at all. You don't want raw crunch, but a ten minute steam in the broth leaves them tender, still beautifully green, and with just enough texture.
  • Please use whatever chicken stock you have on hand. I don't have any homemade stock in the freezer right now, so stock in a box is wholly acceptable. Just make sure you taste before you salt. Between the sausage and the stock, you might find that you don't need any additional salt.
  • Please add a generous grind of black pepper at the end. Delicious. And if you happened to shave some aged parmesan over the pasta when you served it, that would taste fantastic. I didn't; I know it's difficult to believe, but there are some days when I just don't need cheese. This was one of them.
  • Please note the nutrition information. This is not a low-calorie dish (it's the sausage), but it is just packed with nutrients. You could save some calories, fat, and sodium by using turkey smoked sausage. Or use less of the regular sausage. Your call.

No comments:

Post a Comment