Things are complicated these days. Life has gotten busier, faster, bigger. We are all so intent on flying around and through our lives as quickly as possible that we have books, television programs, and magazines devoted to telling us how to slow and simplify, classes to teach us to breathe, and therapists to force us to relax. While they have a point, they seem to forget how much we and everyone else expects us to do in a single day. I totally understand. I know, I get it. There are times that I worry over worrying. Craziness abounds. But I’ve got your back. At least for this one small recipe. This is minimum effort, maximum results. It tastes like you spent a long time stirring and seasoning, channeling an italian nonna from long ago. Ha! E’ la magia! You might even have a bit of time to breathe.
So, here’s the deal. You brown some sausage, you add tomatoes, you let it simmer, you add beans and spice, you simmer some more, you’re done. Truly. That’s it. This is close to perfect. It can be eaten as is, with some crusty olive oil and garlic rubbed bread, it can be a base for roasted meats, it can be mixed with pasta, and…..and, it’s better the next day. Put these items on your next shopping list, and make this as soon as you can. You can thank me later.
My only caveat is here in the southwest where we love spicy anything. This calls for sweet Italian sausage. Not spicy, not mild, sweet. Most of the supermarkets carry Johnsonville products and they make a good sweet sausage. Also Whole Foods make their own and it’s really good. You can also grind it yourself and if you’d like that recipe, leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to send it to you. But please, please, try this as written before you decide that it needs hot spices. I think you’ll love it, please, for me.
3 tablespoons of olive oil, plus more for a drizzle later
1 lb. of Sweet Italian Sausage
6 sage leaves
3 large garlic cloves
1 small finely sliced leek
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 large can of peeled plum tomatoes, either put through a food mill, or quickly processed in a food processor.
2 16 oz. cans of Cannellini beans
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, heat olive oil and brown sausage. If you have it ground, just break it into small pieces. If you buy it in links like above, cut the links open and use the sausage. You don’t want it in a casing for this recipe. When the sausage has browned, add the garlic cloves, leeks and finely sliced sage leaves, saute for a minute then add the tomatoes, oregano, and salt & pepper. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the beans and cook about 15 minutes more, stirring frequently. Don’t cover it, you want the sauce to reduce a bit and the beans to have time to soak some in.
Remove from heat, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve with a generous sprinkle of parmesan and a final drizzle of olive oil.
Adapted from a recipe taught at Cook Street School of Fine Cooking, more about that in another post!