Sausage and cannellini bean gratin with kale and Parmesan

by Jeanne on January 17, 2012

in Recipes - gluten-free, Recipes - meat, Recipes - pulses

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In the late summer of 2010 we rented a villa on the Costa Tropical in Spain, near Almunecar (which turns out to be the source of every cherimoya fruit I’ve seen since!).  The villa was gorgeous, perched high up on a hillside with a 180 degree view of the blue Mediterranean and spectacular sunsets to be enjoyed over poolside cocktails.  Most days we’d trundle down to the local beach, laze on the sand and splash about in the turquoise water before lunch in a local beach bar.  Later we would pick up ice cold beer and wine, olives, jamon and manchego cheese to take back to the villa and nibble on while watching the sun slip below the horizon.  Paradise.  But of course there is only so much of this one can take (!) and every few days we would venture further afield.  One day we visited the local Moorish castle ruins; another we drove inland to Granada to re-visit one of my favourite places in all the world:  the Alhambra palace.  And another day we headed for the hills.  Past the rolling hills dotted with silver-grey olive trees; past the lush green groves of cherimoya trees; past the loquat trees with their electric orange fruits; past old men in vests with walking sticks sitting outside their houses gazing suspiciously at our shiny rental car; past goats and dogs and donkeys – up winding, narrow roads all the way into the mountains.

We arrived in Otivar at about lunchtime, a tiny village of just over 1,000 souls perched high in the mountains with spectacular views.  As with most southern European villages, in the heat of the day it seemed as if everybody was having a siesta.  Just a few bored-looking cats lounged about gazing at us in mild curiousity and a couple of old ladies hunched over their canes peered out of dark doorways festooned with curtains of plastic beads or ribbons. You could almost hear them think: “keep walking, stranger!”. After walking around a bit we wandered into the only obviously open restaurant, Restaurante Buenavista, where we were greeted with friendly surprise.  Clearly, out-of-season tourists are not an everyday occurrence!  Soon, though, we were settled at a table by the window, admiring the view, drinking some local wine and choosing our meal.  Lisa, who’d been looking forward to gazpacho all day, immediately spotted it on the menu and ordered it.  “Oh no, no gazpacho”, said the owner.  Perplexed, Lisa asked whether it was sold out so early in the day. “No sold out, wrong season”, we were informed.  You see, gazpacho is a Summer dish and we had wandered into Otivar on 2 October; and as every Spanish schoolboy knows, gazpacho production in Andalucia ceases promptly at the stroke of midnight on 30 September ;)

 

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As the Bible (and the Byrds!) say, to everything there is a season; and although I would not be in favour of quite as rigid an enforcement policy as the Otivarians and their gazpacho, I do think that the thing I love most about the UK is its distinct seasons and the unique pleasure that they provide.  Spring with its fragrant blossoms, cheery daffodils and delicate asparagus.  Summer with its sunny days, picnics and warm vine-ripened tomatoes and strawberries.  Autumn with its gloriously coloured leaves, the smell of woodsmoke and the joys of hearty pumpkin soup.  And winter with its crisp frosty days, its tender Brussels sprouts and truffly Jerusalem artichokes.  Except… this year, things have not really gone according to plan.  You see, Winter simply stayed away!  My coat hung forlornly in the hall and my gorgeous new red leather gloves with their black buttons languished by the front door, unworn. My roses kept blooming all the way into December and my daffodils poked ther spiky heads up in the same month, despite my dire warnings to them that This Cannot End Well. Not a flake of snow was to be seen in London.  Fair enough, we were saving on heating bills – but I felt kind of cheated.  I missed my frosty, crisp days and the satisfying stews that these days usually make me crave.

And then, suddenly this week the frost arrived, covering the fields in a blanket of white and making cars and leaves shimmer in the early morning sun.  At last, the universe had fallen back into step with expectations, and I could start making comforting one-pot dinners to be eaten while snuggled up under a blanket in the lounge cradling a glass of red wine.  One of the first recipes that sprung to mind was something I’d had in my head to make since last winter – some sort of gratin with sausages and cannellini beans.  I often make a really easy sausage and baked bean casserole with dumplings, but this time I was after something a little more sophisticated.  The recipe is a slight adaptation of this one from Real Simple and apart from being simple to make, it is truly delicious without being too rich or heavy.  In fact, it is very low-fat but still manages to feel like indulgent comfort food – and that’s something that’s always in season at chez Cooksister, whatever the weather decides to do!

 

SausageCannelliBeanGratin1

 

SAUSAGE AND CANNELLINI BEAN GRATIN WITH KALE AND PARMESAN (serves 4)

Ingredients:

4 pork sausages, either thinly sliced of casings removed and crumbled
1 medium onion, chopped
2 sticks of celery
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 cups of curly kale or cavolo nero, chopped and thick stems removed
1 x 410g tin of shopped tomatoes
2 x 410g tins of cannellini beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use Maldon)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180C and spray a 25x15cm baking dish with olive oil or other non-stick spray.

Place the sausages slices/meat in a large frying pan over medium-high heat and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove the sausage from skillet and set aside. Add the celery and onion to the pan and cook until the onion is translucent but not browned. Add the garlic and sage and cook for another minute or two.

Add the kale, a handful at a time, stirring until slightly wilted. Then add the chopped tomatoes, beans and sausage meat.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon the mixture into the baking dish and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, Parmesan and remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle the mixture on top of the beans and bake the whole dish until golden brown and bubbly (about 30 minutes).  Serve hot with a glass of Italian Merlot.

 

P2P_badge-SomersetDid you miss our our super-successful  Tuscany Plate to Page workshop last October? Well, registrations are open for Plate to Page Somerset due to be held in the UK in Spring 2012!  Have a look at the programme, details about  accommodation, and if it looks like something you’d like to attend,register here - but hurry: places are limited to 12. It would be great to see you there!

 

 

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Móna Wise January 17, 2012 at 8:28 pm

I can smell this … I love kale and most beans. Winter has stayed away here too Jeanne… With the week being the coolest but still not frost.
We have a pot of pinto beans and kale simmering right now and cassoulet is on the menu for tomorrow. T’is the season xx

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Cara @ Gourmet Chick January 17, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Oh this looks like great wintery food – now I am at the other side of the world I will have to bookmark it for July!

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Cara @ Gourmet Chick January 17, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Oh this looks like great wintery food – now I am at the other side of the world I will have to bookmark it for July!

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Cara @ Gourmet Chick January 17, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Oh this looks like great wintery food – now I am at the other side of the world I will have to bookmark it for July!

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Kalyn January 17, 2012 at 9:55 pm

This recipe has my name allover it. So many of my favorite flavors!

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Alli@peasepudding January 18, 2012 at 1:34 am

The bean bake looks lovely but what did you end up eating instead of Gazpacho?

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Firefly January 18, 2012 at 7:46 am

I have a feeling my kids won’t eat this, but I can taste it in my mouth. Suddenly I’m hungry

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Rosa January 18, 2012 at 9:20 am

This gratin looks really comforting and scrumptious! A great winter casserole.
Cheers,
Rosa

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Jenn January 18, 2012 at 9:21 am

This sounds fantastic! A perfect seasonal dish – I’ve been looking for ways to incorporate more kale into our dinner menus, and this sounds great – easy to make gluten free too – of course being a Winter food, I will promise to no longer cook it after the stroke of midnight on March 21 ;)

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Sarah, Maison Cupcake January 18, 2012 at 10:04 am

Mmm this is perfect for this time of year. I’ve actually really got into soaking my own cannellini beans lately and been looking for something new to do with them, this is ideal because with sausages Ted would go crazy for it too. I might finally manage to get some beans down him that are not the Heinz variety!!

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Brian @ A Thought For Food January 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Is there anything more wonderful than a gratin? This is the perfect winter dinner… and I imagine that it makes your house smell wonderful.

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bellini January 18, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Spending time in a lovely villa in the hills of Spain sounds like something that needs o be done in my lifetime. What is more achievable at the moment is recreating this comfort food in my own kitchen.

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Lynn @ Order in the Kitchen January 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm

wow this is so delicious looking and creative! I can’t wait to try this! It has all of my favorite things! Beans, Kale, Sausage and CHEESE! How can you go wrong with that?? Plus I LOVE gratins… thanks for the post, can’t wait to try it!

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Meeta January 18, 2012 at 7:38 pm

The perfect meal for cooler January days. This has “snuggle” and “cosy” all over it. Adore kale too and always am looking for exquisite ways to use it in dishes.

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Eggs on the Roof January 18, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I’m so glad to know that the red leather, black-buttoned gloves are finally getting the outing they deserve. And the double benefit for us of the weather starting to behave properly is that you get to share this gorgeous recipe. All the ingredients that I want to eat at this time of year.

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Krista January 19, 2012 at 3:39 am

I love this dish so much, Jeanne, even though it’s summer here and I’m boiling hot parked in front of a fan. :-) When the rains come so do the cold winds, and I shall make this on that sort of night. :-)

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Corina January 20, 2012 at 6:55 pm

This looks gorgeous – definitely comfort food!

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Soma February 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm

This sounds so warm hearty and comforting.

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Dan Toombs - The Curry Guy February 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm

I love your pictures and what a brilliant recipe. Thank you for sharing. I will be giving this recipe a try.
Dan

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