White Bean Stew with Smoked Sausage and Kale – Using Up Leftovers!

Scrappy Stew - White Beans, Kale and Roast Chicken
So it seems winter is going to beat us down at least one more time before spring officially arrives.  Maybe more, but I’m hoping for just one last hurrah.  I used to love winter and all its coziness and hot tea and warm socks.  But now that I’m a mother of two little people, I find winter to be quite suffocating.  I just NEED there to be the option to go outside.  When I had Ellie back in November, I quickly taught Ollie how to open the backyard door by herself.  That was probably the best move I made all year.  She could come and go while I fed the baby and everyone was happy.  But when it snows, there’s this expectation from Ollie that we MUST GO OUTSIDE NOW AND YOU MUST GO WITH ME.  And it just isn’t that easy.  And frankly, as most of you know, it takes 15 minutes to get a child bundled up to go outside and then 5 minutes for them to get so cold they want to come back in.  I fail to see how it’s worth the effort.

The one thing I DO love about cold weather is the food. I love making a huge pot of beans and eating it over the following days in various ways.  Over cornbread, with smoked sausage, in a quesadilla, with a fried egg, whatever, it’s all good.  And this most recent batch of stew we made was my favorite.  Because Matt made it.  Seriously, though, we both make our beans in the same way and much in the spirit of the Family Meal Blog, I always love when a recipe is made by someone else in this family.  This stew also does my most favorite thing in the entire kitchen-world: it uses up leftovers!  We threw in a half used can of diced tomatoes, a handful of kale, onion, and some leftover turkey and sausage from a local bbq joint and it was frankly, amazing.  The beauty of a good bean stew is that you can add anything and if the beans are good, you’re good to go.  For this, I recommend using dried beans instead of canned, although canned would cut the prep/cook time by a good 8 hours.  They just don’t have the depth of flavor that starting with dried beans does.  And because we’re a part of Rancho Gordo’s Bean of the Month Club, (yes) I recommend you get their beans if you can find them!

White Bean and Kale Stew

 

White Bean Stew with Smoked Sausage and Kale

  • Servings: 8-10
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*start this recipe the day before you want to eat it! Modified for a slow cooker below the recipe!

1 lb dried white beans, such as canellini
2 bay leaves
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced (these three ingredients together are called mire poix)
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 can fire roasted tomatoes (we used half a can because that’s what we had leftover in our fridge)
1 smoked sausage link, chopped
4 oz. smoked turkey breast
1 small bunch of kale, rinsed and chopped

The night before you want to eat this stew, rinse the beans and then submerge them in a large stockpot by about 2 inches of water along with the bay leaf.

In the morning, bring the beans to a boil in the same water you soaked them in and add the onion, carrot and celery and garlic cloves.  Season with salt and pepper.  Reduce to an active simmer and cook until beans are tender.  This time can really vary.  I’d say on average, I have the beans simmering for about 2 hours before they are a texture I like.  Some like al dente beans.  I’m not one of those people.  I also don’t like them to be total mush, like canned, but it’s your preference, really.  Just start tasting them after an hour and keep going if you’re not satisfied.

After about an hour of simmering, add in the tomatoes and meats (and honestly, the meats were leftovers in our fridge. You could add bacon, ground beef, no meat at all – this soup will be amazing no matter what).  Toss the kale in about 30 minutes before serving and adjust the seasoning of the stew with extra salt and pepper.  Remove the bay leaves and serve with crusty buttered bread.

Slow Cooker Note: this could all be done in a slow cooker if you wanted to get it on before you go to work.  Just soak the beans in a large slow cooker overnight with the bay leaves with at least 2-3 inches of water covering the beans.  In the morning before you leave for work, add in the mire poix and garlic and turn it to low.  When you get home, add in the rest of the ingredients and turn it on high for about 30 minutes to let it boil.  Adjust the seasoning and serve.

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Vegetable Puff Pastry Pizza

Vegetable Pizza on Puff Pastry
This was lunch for me and Olive, today.  I LOVED it.  We had a random selection of leftover veg in the fridge and my mind always goes the leftover route of omelet or fritatta, but not today.  We had puff pastry in the fridge and a tiny bit of leftover Romesco sauce and so I knew I had a pizza in there, somewhere.  The flavors were amazing and the whole thing took 20 minutes to make (minus the time it took to let the puff pastry thaw out.)  Super winner in my book.

Olive took two bites of one tiny square and declared herself done, not hungry, anymore.  Okay!  I have to roll with things like that.  Inside my head, I think, “What could I offer her that I know she’d eat? Crackers?  Pasta?  Something without kale and asparagus on it?”  But no.  I can not get into that habit or I’ll have the toughest time getting out of it.  In the last few months, I’ve seen Olive eat potatoes of all colors (those purple things on the pizza are potatoes), tomatoes, asparagus, kale, carrots and cheese.  So in my head, I knew that this wasn’t a challenging meal for her.  She’s had a tough week with food, though, and I knew before I even made it that it would probably tank.  I asked her later how she liked lunch and she said, “It was good! I tried two bites!”  So there you go.  To her it wasn’t a failure.  To me it was because she didn’t inhale it like she would’ve a pizza with just pepperoni and cheese.  Quantity doesn’t always mean quality.  I have to remember that exposure and consistency are the major keys to training up good eaters.  Mere exposure is helpful because then you don’t have the kid that cries at the sight of vegetables on their plate and familiarity breeds comfort, eventually.  Eventually.  Eventually is the result of patience and to be honest, it’s not my strongest attribute.  But I’m learning and I’m trying and I will tell myself on days when my little half-pint only eats four bites all day that she will be okay.  She’ll learn.  Eventually.

unbaked Veggie Pizza
Here’s the pizza raw so you can see better what I found in my fridge to add:  kale rubbed with a bit of olive oil, leftover roasted root vegetables, leftover grilled asparagus and half a tomato.  The sauce was our leftover Romesco sauce and I put all this on top of one sheet of frozen puff pastry.  Puff pastry is flawless.  Super fancy-seeming lunch in 20 minutes.  I’ll take it!

Veggie Pizza

 

Vegetable Puff Pastry Pizza
serves two as a main or 4 as an appetizer

One sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 TBS tomato sauce or Romesco sauce
Any toppings you like.  I used:
1/2 cup chopped kale
1/2 cup chopped (already cooked) asparagus
Half a tomato, cut into wedges
1/2 cup (already roasted) potatoes and carrots
1/2 cup shredded Italian blend cheese

On a rimmed baking sheet, spray with oil and lay out your puff pastry to thaw.  When thawed enough to unfold, spread it out and roll it out bigger on each side to be about 1″ longer all the way around.  Spread your sauce and then sprinkle the cheese to cover it well.  Arrange your vegetables and coat the kale in a little bit of olive oil and rub it into the leaves to soften them up.  Bake in a 400F oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Leftover Veggie Pizza