Earlier this week I had a total recipe fail and I was a bit discouraged since I haven’t had much time in the kitchen lately, but then I took a step back and realized I needed to get back to my roots. Simple recipes, with simple ingredients, and lots of flavor. So I decided to take advantage of a sale on Italian sausage (one of my favorite “short cut” ingredients) and whip up this incredibly filling Italian Sausage and White Bean Skillet.
One of the reasons I love working with Italian sausage is because it’s packed with all the herbs and spices that you would normally add one by one to a recipe. So when I start a dish with Italian sausage, I rarely have to season it with anything later. The sausage does all the work for me. Yay! To retain all the flavor from the sausage, I did not drain the fat from the skillet, but rather used it as a sort of sauce or dressing to coat the white beans and spinach with flavor. I added some freshly cracked pepper and that’s it. I used hot Italian sausage because that’s what was on sale, but you can use mild or sweet varieties as well.
This Italian sausage and White Bean Skillet is so extremely versatile that I wanted to give you a few variations. I decided to go with a “one skillet” and low-er carb version because those recipes seem to be quite popular lately, but you can lower the cost and stretch this meal out by replacing some of the sausage, beans, or spinach with 8oz. of cooked pasta, preferably orecchiette, which is a flat, disk-like shape. If you can’t find spinach for a low price like I did (thank you, Aldi!!), you can cut the amount of spinach in half and still have a great dish, or use frozen chopped spinach.
Italian Sausage and White Bean Skillet
Italian Sausage and White Bean Skillet
- 1 lb. Italian sausage (hot, mild, or sweet) ($3.49)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.13)
- 2 15 oz. cans cannellini beans* ($1.10)
- 8 oz. spinach ($1.49)
- Freshly cracked pepper ($0.05)
- Remove the casing from the sausage and add the sausage to a large deep skillet, or wide bottomed soup pot, along with the olive oil. Sauté the sausage over medium heat, breaking it into pieces as you go, until the sausage is cooked through, brown, and crispy on the edges (about 10 minutes).
- While the sausage is cooking, rinse and drain the cannellini beans. Once the sausage is brown and crispy, add the beans and some freshly cracked pepper to the skillet. Gently stir the beans into the sausage to coat them in the fat, and allow them to heat through.
- As the beans are heating through, roughly chop the spinach. Add the spinach to the skillet or pot in batches, gently stirring it into the sausage and beans until it wilts down. Once the spinach is mostly wilted, turn the heat off. Taste the mixture and add salt if needed (this will depend on the salt content of your sausage and beans). Serve hot.
Step by Step Photos
This recipe started with this awesome sale on Italian sausage. This whole package, which is actually slightly larger than 1 lb. was only $3.49. This recipe is very flexible and forgiving, so you can use a little less, a little more, or exactly 1 lb. Italian sausage, and it can be hot, mild, or sweet.
Remove the casing from the sausage and then add the sausage to a large deep skillet (I used this 4qt deep skillet), or a wide bottomed pot with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté the sausage over medium heat, breaking it into pieces as it cooks, until the sausage pieces are brown and crispy. Don’t stop when it’s simply cooked through, keep going until the moisture evaporates and the edges start to sizzle in the oil and turn brown.
While the sausage is cooking, rinse and drain two 15oz. cans of cannellini beans. Cannellini beans are better than navy beans or great northern beans because they are larger, hold up better, and have a great creamy flavor. The smaller beans that tend to break down are better suited for soups and things where you’ll want them to break down and help thicken the mixture.
Once the sausage is crispy, add the drained beans and gently stir to combine. Add some freshly cracked pepper and allow the beans to heat through with the sausage.
I’m lucky enough to be able to buy this 8oz. bag of fresh spinach for $1.49, but if you can’t get a deal like this you can either reduce the spinach by half, or use frozen spinach in its place. The only downside to using the frozen spinach is that the texture and appearance will not be as good. Instead of being tender, the frozen spinach will be a bit more stringy. Actually frozen broccoli florets (chopped into small pieces) would also be pretty awesome with this.
Roughly chop the spinach and add it to the skillet in batches, stirring it just until it wilts down, and then adding the next batch.
Once all the spinach has been added and it is mostly wilted (you want it to still have a little body, not totally cooked down), give everything a taste and add salt or pepper if needed. My skillet was so extremely flavorful, even without adding anything else. It’s amazing! The amount of seasoning needed at the end will likely depend on the salt and spice content of your sausage and beans, so it may vary from brand to brand.
Dinner doesn’t get easier than this. :)
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