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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Italian Sausage & White Bean Bake

Italian Sausage & White Bean Bake
When you're not right on top of the damage waged by natural disasters, it's easy to let it slip to the back of your mind.  Go on with life as usual.

I consider myself blessed to have celebrated Thanksgiving in my home with my family while enjoying good food cooked in my kitchen and watching football on television.  For that, and all of the other gifts in my life, I am thankful.

Not everybody was as fortunate this year.  Many victims of Superstorm Sandy are without their homes...their kitchens...their televisions.  They are thankful for their lives and the lives of their loved ones.  They are strong.  They are rebuilding.  But they could use our help.
Italian Sausage & White Bean Bake
So somewhere in the middle of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, reach into your hearts and reach out with your hands.  Be it in the form of donations - (monetary or otherwise), volunteering your time and/or your labor, or baking a comforting meal for someone in need - reach out and lend a helping hand.

And while it may seem small in the scope of things, nothing compares to something homemade shows up at your door when you are feeling low.  A gesture.  A dish that warms not only your body, but also your heart and your soul.  This comforting casserole is full of warmth from the creamy white beans to the sweet Italian sausage to the scent of the herbs mingling with both in the steam that makes its way through the crispy bread crumb topping.  Deliver it to the door of somebody who needs it...maybe take along a green salad, a bottle of white wine, and a pan of brownies for a complete meal.

Italian Sausage and White Bean Bake
Italian Sausage & White Bean Bake
by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: ~50 minutes
Keywords: bake entree beans bread sausage fall winter

Ingredients (serves 8)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 1½ lb. sweet Italian sausage
  • 3 leeks (white & light green parts), halved lengthwise & sliced into half moons
  • 2 carrots, sliced about same size as leeks
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • ½ c. white wine
  • 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans cannellini or great northern beans, drained & rinsed
  • small handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • leaves stripped from a few sprigs fresh thyme
  • ~10 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 c. bread crumbs (fresh or dry, fine or coarse, or a mix)
Preheat oven to 375° F.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large deep-sided pan over medium-high heat. Push the Italian sausage out of its casings in little bits the size of tiny meatballs (or, if you sausage is bulk, add it to the pan as is and break up with a wooden spoon). Cook, stirring often, until sausage is browned, 8-10 minutes.

Add leeks and carrots to the pan and continue to sauté for another 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes longer. Add the wine and let it cook for 1 more minute. Dump in the tomatoes with their juices and bring to a boil. Tip in the beans, fresh herbs, salt, and pepper; stir to combine. Transfer mixture to a baking dish that has been coated lightly with cooking spray.
Italian Sausage & White Bean Bake
Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and then sprinkle it evenly over the whole thing. Slide into preheated oven and bake until the bread crumbs are golden and crispy and the mixture is bubbling around the edges, ~30 minutes.

Serve warm or hot. Wrap leftovers well and refrigerate; equally delicious (if not more so) the next day.

adapted from The Good Neighbor Cookbook
Italian Sausage & White Bean Bake