Hooray for simple dishes! I came across this post for Tomato and White Bean Stew with Chicken Sausage on Domesticate Me the other day and thought, “What a wonderfully simple and delightful dish! I must make that immediately.” It reminded me of my favorite Penne Pasta with Sausage and Greens, but with beans replacing the pasta. I never thought about using beans in place of pasta, but it works so seamlessly with this dish that I might try it in more recipes in the future. Less carbs, more protein, and more fiber! White Beans with Tomato and Sausage wins!
I made a couple small changes to the Domesticate Me recipe, most notably the type of beans used. Cannellini beans are awesome because they’re large and hold their shape well, but they were ridiculously expensive at my grocery store and I didn’t have time to cook them from dry. My other two options were Navy beans and Great Northern. Both are smaller than Cannellini, with Great Northern being the larger of the two. Navy beans are great for soups and stews where you want the beans to thicken the mixture up because they tend to break down and release their starches. Great Northern break down a bit too, but not quite as much as Navy, so I went with the Great Northern.
I used two links of leftover mild pork Italian sausage that I had stashed in my freezer, but you could use hot Italian sausage, sweet Italian sausage, or even chicken sausage like the original recipe. I used frozen spinach in place of the fresh (because I had it and it’s less expensive), and decided against adding any broth. I wanted my White Beans with Tomato and Sausage to be a thick, saucy compote-like mixture, so I avoided adding extra liquid. If you want it more like a stew, you can add some broth (chicken or vegetable would be best).
I ate this in a bowl with a chunk of good crusty bread to sop up the sauce, but you could also pile it over toast and maybe even add a fried egg (I did! See photos below). The White Beans with Tomato and Sausage is great with a little cheese sprinkled over top, if you have some.
White Beans with Tomato and Sausage
- 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
- 2 about 8 oz. links Italian Sausage ($1.99)
- 1 medium onion ($0.32)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes ( $1.49)
- 1/2 tsp dried basil ($0.05)
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano ($0.05)
- Pinch red pepper flakes, optional ($0.02)
- Freshly cracked black pepper ($0.03)
- 2 15 oz. cans Great Northern beans ($1.38)
- 4 oz. frozen chopped spinach (1/4 of a 1 lb. bag) ($0.40)
- Salt to taste ($0.02)
- Add the olive oil and sausage links to a large pot and cook over medium-low heat until golden brown on the outside and slightly firm (about 5 minutes). Remove the sausage to a cutting board and slice them into rounds. Return the sausage slices to the pot.
- Continue to sauté the sausage until fully browned. While the sausage is cooking, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onions and garlic to the pot and continue to sauté until the onions are soft and transparent. The moisture from the onions should dissolve any browned bits of sausage from the bottom of the pot.
- Once the onions are soft, add the can of crushed tomatoes, dried basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and a healthy dose of freshly cracked pepper (15-20 cranks of a pepper mill). Stir to combine.
- Empty the two cans of Great Northern beans into a colander and rinse with cool water. Let the excess water drain away, then add the beans to the pot along with the frozen chopped spinach (no need to thaw). Stir the contents of the pot and allow them to heat through, stirring occasionally
- (about 10 minutes). Taste and add salt if needed (1/4-1/2 tsp). If a thicker mixture is desired, let the pot simmer longer until the sauce has reduced. Serve hot with crusty bread for dipping.
White Beans with Tomato and Sausage
(Served over toast and topped with a fried egg.)
Step by Step Photos
Start off by browning two links of Italian sausage in a large pot with one tablespoon of olive oil. I did this over medium-low heat to make sure the outside didn’t brown too fast. The reason you’ll want to do this first is to firm the sausage up enough to slice it into rounds. When the sausage is raw it’s soft like ground beef, so once you slice through the casing, there’s no holding it together. Cooking it slightly helps make it firm enough to slice.
Once it’s browned on the outside, remove it to a cutting board and slice it into rounds.
Return it to the pot and continue to sauté until it’s browned on all sides. It’s okay if little bits start to stick to the bottom of the pot and turn brown. That will give the dish flavor (and will dissolve off in the next step). While the sausage is browning, dice one onion and mince two cloves of garlic.
Add the diced onion and minced garlic to the pot and continue to sauté until the onions are soft and transparent. The onions will release moisture as they cook, which will help dissolve all that delicious flavor off the bottom of the pot (that’s why they look so brown).
After the onions have softened, add one 28oz. can of crushed tomatoes, 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, a pinch of crushed red pepper (optional), and a healthy dose of cracked pepper. Stir to combine.
Rinse two 15oz. cans of Great Northern beans in a colander and let the excess water drain away. Add them to the pot along with 4oz. of frozen spinach (just estimate about 1/4 of a one pound bag). Stir them into the tomato sauce.
Let the pot simmer for about 10 minutes, or until heated through. Stir occasionally to help break up the chunks of frozen spinach and help distribute the heat. Taste and add salt if needed (1/4-1/2 tsp). You can serve the beans immediately, or let them simmer a little longer and let the sauce thicken up even more. That’s just personal preference.
I love to eat it with a chunk of crusty bread to soak up that yummy tomato sauce!
It made about 5 cups, or four servings of 1.25 cups each. It’s pretty filling!