From the Kitchen Garden: Hearty Stew with Fall Greens, Beans & Sausage

Tuscan Kale

Well, it’s October tomorrow. Wasn’t it just May? Somehow the years seem to pick up speed as you grow older… At any rate, I’m venturing out between raindrops this afternoon to pick the last of the tomatoes from the garden (and yes, I did reach my goal of 100 quarts canned!) Once they’re gone, things will quiet down considerably; there are still leeks to harvest, and carrots, and beets (I hope) and of course, those fabulous fall greens, kale, chard and collard greens.

A lot of people grow fall greens, then are not quite sure what to do with them once they mature, and that’s a shame, as they are hardy plants capable of surviving considerable cold – frost and snow actually improve their flavor. Plus, these leafy greens are also loaded with calcium, potassium and tons of Vitamin A. Here’s one of my favorite recipes for fall: hearty stew with fall greens, beans and sausage. Note the cooking difference between chard, or kale/collards:  kale and collards require far more extended time to bring our their flavors.

RECIPE: Hearty Stew with Fall Greens, Beans and Sausage
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound sweet or hot fresh sausage, cut into 1-inch chunks
One 19-ounce can white cannellini beans, drained
quarter cup dry white or red wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tomatoes, cored and cubed, or 1 cup peeled canned tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Hot pepper sauce
2 cups packed Swiss chard or kale or collard greens, stemmed and coarsely chopped
In a large skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the onions, salt, pepper, half the thyme and rosemary, and half the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes. Add the sausage chunks and raise the heat to moderately high. Let brown and cook another 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the beans, wine, chicken broth, tomatoes, a dash of hot pepper sauce, and the remaining herbs and garlic. Reduce the heat and let simmer 4 minutes. If using Swiss chard, add and let cook another 6 minutes, until the sauce is somewhat thickened and the until the sauce is somewhat thickened and the sausage is thoroughly cooked. If using kale or collards, simmer 45 minutes or more, covered.

4 servings.

(Chef’s note: this is one of those dishes that hugely benefits from a rest before serving – 2-3 hours make an incredible difference. Cook, cool, then  reheat before serving with freshly baked bread or Asian sticky rice for a scrumptious treat.)

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