Nothing is more comforting on a cool night than a flavorful bowl of hearty beans and sausage. For a new take on this simple dish, we paired creamy, tender white beans and robust kale with meaty Italian sausage. We wanted the sausages to be napped in a velvety sauce, so we started by pureeing some of the cannellini beans and canned diced tomatoes. The canned tomatoes’ juices and some chicken broth deepened the flavor of the puree and gave it just the right consistency. Next, we ensured that the sausages held their shape by pricking the casings with a fork before cooking. After browning them to build some fond, we removed the sausages, softened chopped onion in the meaty renderings, and added garlic and the bean-tomato puree to the pot. The remaining intact diced tomatoes created some textural contrast, and wilting a whole pound of chopped kale was as easy as stirring it in and then covering the pot and letting it simmer away. We returned the browned sausages to the pot along with more cannellinis during the last 10 minutes of cooking, allowing the sausages to cook through and the beans to absorb some of the flavorful broth before serving. Serve with crusty bread.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- Total Time: 1 Hour
- 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained with juice reserved
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, pricked all over with fork
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound kale, stemmed and chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Puree ½ cup beans, ½ cup tomatoes, reserved tomato juice, and chicken broth in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds.
- Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add sausages and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes; transfer to plate.
- Add onion to fat left in pot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in pureed bean mixture, kale, remaining tomatoes, and ¼ teaspoon salt, scraping up any browned bits, and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is wilted and tender, about 15 minutes.
- Stir in remaining beans, then nestle sausages into pot, adding any accumulated juices. Cover and cook until sausages register 160 degrees and sauce is thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.