Cannellini with Fennel Sausage and Sun Dried Tomato

My oldest son has a love of Italian dishes.  So I look for recipes that make him smile.  I found a simple one, that with a few easy tweaks, went from good to “oh my goodness!”

Sausage and Cannellini beans (white kidney) together are an Italian staple.  But it can be much more than that without spending a lot of time or effort.  This dish comes together in about 45 minutes with 30 minutes of hands on time, making it a great weeknight meal.

The key to success in this dish is getting a good quality sausage.  Sweet Italian sausage should be your first choice.  The fennel in the sausage pairs beautifully with sage and thyme.  Mushroom, onion, and sweet pepper work well with the creamy beans.  Instead of tomato paste, I use my dried tomato “jam” with fennel.  Not a fennel fan?  Use basil or thyme.  The idea is to have more flavor.

You’ll need:  (to make about 5 servings)

Olive oil, as needed

¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 cup sweet peppers, chopped

4 cloves garlic, pressed

3 sweet Italian fennel sausages (about 1 lb), casings removed

3 Tbs “sun” dried tomato jam (fennel flavored is fab) or tomato paste

1 ½ tsp dried sage

1 tsp dried thyme

1 ½ cups water or broth

salt, to taste

2-15 oz cans of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

3-4 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped

Crusty bread and slice aged cheese, to serve

Heat a large stock pan over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add olive oil and red pepper flakes. Add mushrooms and saute over high heat until moisture is driven off and mushrooms are nicely browned. (remove them from the pan) Add onion and lower heat to medium. Cook until translucent and collapsed, about 5 minutes. Add chopped peppers and garlic.  Continue to cook at medium heat for another minute or two.

While the mushrooms brown and veggies saute….

Remove the casings from the sausage. Drain and rinse the beans.  Chop the parsley.  Slice the bread and cheese.

Add sausage to the pot and stir to break up them into small pieces. Stir occasionally until sausage is cooked through.  Stir in the tomato jam (or paste), sage, and thyme. Add the mushrooms back to the pot. Stir to combine and allow it all to simmer for another 2-3 minutes.  Add broth, Cannellini beans and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 10-15 minutes.  The broth will almost be gone when ready.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve with slices of Tuscan Fontina, Asiago or Parmesan and a crusty bread.


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