From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Beans did not play a major role in the diets of most families in the area where I was raised. My mother was an Easterner, so we were the exception and Boston Baked Beans appeared often on our table. As I recall, my siblings and I hated them, so as soon as it was possible, I saw to it that dried beans never made it to my kitchen, much less my table. While I would serve canned beans for picnics and barbecues, and occasionally made a cassoulet, beans simply were not part of our diet. Things changed about three years ago when we were traveling and beans were served with most of our meals. I was not an immediate convert, but some of the preparations were good enough to make me curious, and I began to experiment with bean soups and stews. Very few of those recipes ever made it to the blog, but the ones you will find in the index are truly exceptional. The bean stew I'm featuring today certainly falls into that category. I found the recipe for it in The New York Times and it has become a hands down favorite of my family ever since. The stew is remarkably flavorful and quite easy to prepare. It is perfect for this time of year and I do hope you'll give it a try. Here is how it is made.
Herbed White Bean and Sausage Stew...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of The New York Times
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for serving
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, sliced 3/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound dried Great Northern beans, rinsed and picked through
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 thyme sprigs
1 large rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, more for serving
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, more to taste.
1) Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add sausage and brown until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.
2) Add tomato paste and cumin to pot. Cook, stirring, until dark golden, about 2 minutes. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in beans, 8 cups water, salt, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Turn heat up to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer gently until beans are tender, about 2 hours, adding more water if needed to make sure the beans remain submerged.
3) When beans are tender, return sausage to pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into warm bowls and serve drizzled with additional vinegar and olive oil. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
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