Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sausage, White Bean, and Spinach Gratin

In the past couple of years, particularly in winter, I have grown very fond of white beans.  I usually stock up on three different kinds/sizes...white kidney beans (also called canneli beans), navy beans and great northern beans.  Any time I try a new recipe or start tweaking one I make frequently, I tend to add an extra can.  I can image one day my chicken chili will have more beans than it does now and probably no chicken.  Beans are a good source of protein, but they are also filling and stay nice and hot on a cold winter's night.  I see more experiments with beans in my future, especially in dips which will transition to summer well.

This recipe is similar to another one I make, but this one is a gratin.  I also like this recipe because of the addition of spinach as it adds more color and satisfies my desire for greens in winter.  The recipe is based on the Keepers cookbook by Brennan and Campion.  It is a simple recipe to put together and not very time consuming, so great for a quick meal.

Sausage, White Bean and Spinach Gratin
Serves 6

3/4 cup of breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground sweet Italian sausage
1 small onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cans of white beans, drained and rinsed
several handfuls of spinach

Preheat oven to 425F.  Combine the breadcrumbs and butter in a small bowl.  Season with salt.  In a large skillet which can also transfer to the oven, heat the olive oil.  Add the sausage.  Break up the sausage while browning.  Once brown, transfer the sausage to a bowl and set aside.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Add the onions and garlic, stir occasionally until onions are soft.  Add the tomato paste and thyme.  Stir until fragrant (about half a minute).  Add the wine and simmer to deglaze for about 2 minutes or until nearly evaporated.  Add the broth and simmer. Add the beans, sausage and any juices from the bowl.  Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer until heated throughout and some of the liquid has been absorbed. (It still will be juicy, but not so much that there is more liquid than solids.) Remove from heat and add the 5-6 handfuls of spinach.  Check seasonings again.  Sprinkle the top with bread crumb mixture.  Bake until the bread crumbs are golden brown (about 15 minutes).  Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.  This dish reheats well.

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