Italian Sausage, Beans, and Greens

Italian Sausage, Beans, and Greens

A friend and I were recently chatting, and the conversation turned to food. Is it me, or do all conversations inevitably lead to food? It may just be me, but it’s one of my favorite topics, and eating is something we all have in common. Anyway, she was looking for some new dinner ideas… but there were parameters- suggestions had to be kid friendly, accommodate allergies, and be on the table quickly. Immediately, one of my favorite go to meals came to mind, Italian Sausage, Beans, and Greens.

There are several reasons why this dish ticks so many boxes in the “pro” Raw sausage, bunch of kale, bunch of chard, cannellini beanscolumn. It’s delicious, done in 30 minutes, needs only a few basic ingredients, and is so flexible in terms of those ingredients. The basics include Italian sausage, cannellini beans, and greens. I make this with Italian pork sausage, but feel free to use chicken sausage or turkey sausage. The beauty of using Italian style sausage is that it has all the seasoning you’ll need- other than any salt and pepper added to taste at the end. Cannellini beans are easy to have on hand, I usually have a few cans in the pantry. The greens I use depend on what’s available; kale, chard, spinach, arugula, rapini, mustard greens, and dandelion greens all work really well. Stick with one type or combine your favorites. Even the measurements are just guidelines.  Add more or less of the sausage, beans, or greens.  There is plenty of room to play in order to suit your tastes.  It’s all good!

My friend declared this a hit in her home, and has made it multiple times since. Now she’s looking for more new ideas… 🙂

Do you have favorite recipes that immediately jump to mind when someone asks, “What are you making for dinner?” What makes a dish one of your “go to” meals?

Italian sausage, beans, and greens in a bowl

Italian Sausage, Beans, and Greens

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients:
4 Italian sausage, about 1lb total (I used 2 sweet and 2 spicy)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch kale, rinsed, stems removed and leaves chopped
1 bunch swiss chard, rinsed, stems removed and leaves chopped
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan for passing

loaf of crusty bread (optional)

Instructions:
In a large saucepan, parboil the sausage links, about 5 minutes. While the links are parboiling, I carefully prick them to release the liquified fat that has accumulated under the casings. Remove from the water, cool slightly and slice crosswise into ½-inch pieces.

Heat olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. When oil is shimmery, add sliced sausage. Be careful! There will be some splattering. Sauté sausage on both sides until brown, approximately 5 minutes. Remove sausage and set aside.

Return sauté pan to burner, lower heat to medium low and add greens. Stir to coat in any oil or sausage bits remaining in pan. Cover and cook until wilted, 2 minutes.

Add cannellini beans to wilted greens and stir to combine. Add sausage back to pan and heat everything through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately with crusty bread, passing parmesan for grating.

Parboiling the sausage in a saucepan.
Parboil the sausage. Carefully prick them with a fork to release liquified fat under the casings.
Heating olive oil in large sauté pan
In large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Adding sliced sausage to sauté pan.
Add sliced sausages to sauté pan. Be careful, they will splatter!
Sautéing sausage on cooktop
Continue to sauté sausage until brown on both sides, 5 minutes or so. When brown, remove sausage and set aside.
 Adding greens to sauté pan
Add greens to sauté pan, stirring to coat with any oil or sausage bits left in pan. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and cook for approximately two minutes, or until greens are wilted.
Adding cannelloni beans to wilted green
Add cannellini beans to the wilted greens and mix well.
Adding sliced sausage to wilted greens and beans.
Add reserved sausage and heat everything through. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with crusty bread and parmesan for passing.

Lasagna Roll Ups

Lasagna Roll Up with basil

Wednesday night is pasta night at White House Red Door; at the very least, that means 52 nights of pasta a year and, to be honest, I’m sure we exceed that, easily. The wonderful thing is that there are so many shapes, sizes, styles, and sauces that we could quickly go through a year without any repeats. Actually, having written that, I really should consider this a challenge. Note to self… New Year’s Resolution decided… a year’s worth of pasta.

Most Wednesday nights I use dry pasta, pairing with some seasonal veggie and sauce. Occasionally meat makes an appearance, but only in a supporting role. Favorites include:

  • orechiette + kale + Italian sausage
  • spaghetti carbonara
  • baked orzo + shrimp + tomatoes + feta
  • penne + tuna + tomatoes + capers
  • tortellini + sautéed zucchini + pesto

Fresh pasta is a tremendous treat; a group effort saved for a quiet day when we can dedicate ourselves to the task. The rewards are well worth the effort and seem to lend themselves to cold, snowy days.

  • homemade butternut squash ravioli + sage + brown butter
  • homemade tagliatelle + bolognese
  • homemade lasagna noodles + béchamel + bolognese + parmesan

Rainbow ChardOne dish that turns up almost monthly is Lasagna Roll Ups. The perfect preset portions, incredible variety in terms of filling, and ease in getting this on the table make it one of my pasta night “go to” stand outs. The basic formula of ricotta, parmesan, salt and pepper remains constant, even standing alone if needed. However, when you have leftover or fresh veggies staring at you every time you open the fridge, throw them in the filling. Just about anything works- squash, zucchini, greens, peppers, mushrooms, onions are just a start.

This recipe is one to play with according to your taste. The quantities of sauce and cheese below are just guidelines. Love your lasagna gooey, saucy and cheesy? Done. Just add more sauce and cheese.   Hate greens? No problem. Swap the greens for another vegetable you like. Missing the meat? Brown some sausage, ground beef, or add leftover chicken. It will be delicious. Trust yourself!

PS- If you have any roll ups left, they make excellent additions to a lunch box. Simply warm up in the microwave and immediately transfer to a thermos.

Lasagna Roll Up with basil

Lasagna Roll Ups

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients:
1 box lasagna noodles (15-18 noodles)
1 32oz jar of your favorite marinara sauce, 1 ½ cups reserved
2 cups ricotta
½ cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella, ½ cup reserved
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 bunch greens… spinach, kale, swiss chard or combination
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare casserole dish by covering bottom with thin layer of marinara sauce.

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles, 6 at a time, until flexible. When flexible, remove noodles with tongs and place on a cookie sheet lined with a clean dish towel. Top with another clean dish towel, and repeat with next batch of 6 noodles. Repeat until all the noodles are cooked.

Make the filling:
Saute chopped greens in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Remove from pan and finely chop. Set aside.

Combine ricotta, parmesan, and nutmeg. Stir in finely chopped greens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Assembly:
Spread ricotta filling lengthwise down noodle (approximately 2 tablespoons per noodle). Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons marinara sauce over ricotta and top with 1-2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella.

Tightly roll up noodle jelly roll style and place seam side down in prepared casserole. (Depending on the casserole dish I use, my noodles usually end up being in 3×5 rows. It is important for the rolls to fit snugly against one another so that they don’t unfurl.) Repeat with remaining noodles.

Pour reserved 1 ½ cups of marinara over roll ups. Top with reserved ½ cup of shredded mozzarella. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan.

Bake until heated through and bubbly, 30 minutes or so.

Chopped kale on cutting board.
Chopped kale, but use whatever greens you have… swiss chard and spinach work beautifully.
Ricotta filling mixed with chopped greens.
Mix chopped greens with ricotta, parmesan, a few gratings of nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.
Lasagna roll up ingredients are out and ready for assembly, casserole dish, lasagne noodles, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, filling, marinara sauce and salt.
All the ingredients are prepped and ready for assembly.
Lasagna noodles spread with ricotta filling.
Spread ricotta filling along the length of each noodle.
Lasagna noodle with ricotta filling and drizzled with marinara sauce.
Drizzle your favorite marinara sauce over the ricotta filling.
Lasagna noodles rolled up jelly roll style.
Tightly roll up the noodle jelly roll style.
Lasagna roll ups fit snugly in the casserole dish.
The roll ups should fit snugly in the casserole dish so that they don’t unfurl during baking.
Lasagna roll ups topped with sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.
Top with sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Bake at 350° until heated through and bubbly.