my normal work schedule is 7 – 4, but lately i have been working more like 6 – 5 to try to catch up. my brain is melting a touch, i confesss. the learning curve is steep, and while i am adjusting, it takes time. most days, i am behind. but yesterday, i was realllllly done at eight hours.
i wanted to cook.
for me, cooking readjusts my head to where it feels straight. it’s what i needed to refresh my spirit. i recently read a tempting recipe for some stew that called for a slow-cooker, and i got really excited because i love using my slow-cooker and coming home to a wonderful aroma of a hot meal, waiting for me! don’t you? but, the recipe said to slow-cook for 2.5 hours. and that just isn’t going to fly when i am away from home for so long during the work week. 8 hours, sure, but 2.5, really?
so i made my own stew. slow-and-low, but not too slow. just long enough to bake a loaf of the best bread ever (if you’ve been reading food blogs for any length of time, i dont need to tell you about Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread method…. but, if you haven’t tried it before, you really should. making professional-looking and totally delicious bread is fail-proof and absolutely a sinch!! here is the simple recipe to guide you — try it!).
to be honest, this stew isn’t all that pretty. but who cares, winter food has never been about good looks. we’ll leave that for Spring and Summer eats. the truth is that this stew feeds your soul, and your eyes will forget their lustfulness. i promise. the kale shares its earthiness through the body of the stew, and each bite is hearty with beans and sausage. i love the fennel seeds here that really make the tomato flavors sing. i also had a little fresh basil and parsley on hand, so i added some for a wonderful brightness. but this slow-cooked stew will really work beautifully on dried herbs, which are so much more budget-friendly, am i right?
if the holidays have left you frazzled, or if you need something healthful to fill your family up, or maybe you invited dinner guests who are notoriously late and you’re unsure if you will have 10 minutes or two hours to keep the food warm — here is a perfect and simple dinner. let it simmer away for a while on the stove, unattended. or eat it just after it’s become hot– it’s delicious either way. don’t let cooking rule your schedule. make it work for you, yes?
(what you might expect to see in the coming recipes here at DFW are recipes more on the healthful side, with budget-conciousness at the forefront. a lower cheese-intake and a lower income is what 2013 is bringing us so far, and we hope you’ll enjoy experiencing some of our realities with us!)
–oh, and i’ll be honest, this stew makes fantastic leftovers. if it becomes too thick when reheated for lunch the next day, a little water helps — the flavors havent gone, just some of their moisture, so add a splash and off you go, making your coworkers envious as they smell your lunch.
white bean, sausage and kale stew
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 lb chicken spicy Italian sausage, bulk, or casings removed
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large cans (28-ounce) whole tomatoes, juices of one can drained and reserved for another use
- 2 cans (14-ounce) white beans, such as canellini
- 1 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 gigantic bunch kale, washed and stems removed, chopped
- fresh herbs, such as parsley and basil, chopped (optional)
heat the oil in a large skillet over medium and brown the sausage, breaking into crumbly pieces with a spoon as it cooks.
once browned, add diced onion and minced garlic and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. add the can of drained tomatoes and the can of tomatoes with their juice, and carefully (they might squirt at you!) mash the tomatoes into chunks with a potato masher, or your instrument of choice, until broken into bite-sized pieces. then add the white beans, fennel and oregano. stir everything occasionlly while this bubbles for at least 20 minutes, but an hour if you have time.
as canned tomatoes are usually salted, i found this stew did not require seasoning, but make your own salting determination after taste-testing.
about 15 minutes before serving, add the chopped kale and stir and simmer. remove from heat and stir in fresh herbs, if using. you could top each bowl of stew with grated parmesan, if you like, but i found it hearty and rich enough without it! yes, this stew had me saying “no” to cheese. now that’s something.