Friday, November 15, 2013
Not Quite As Light
I started off with soaked beans, innocent enough. Big beautiful white beans not gathered from my garden or some tony farmer's market but plucked from the bins at The Napa Valley Olive Oil Company, a ramshackle Italian grocery in St Helena. In addition to beautiful jugs of their own olive oil this hidden gem offers a small selection of cheese, meats and imported groceries. It's one of my favorite places. They have a new, show place store in Napa but I've never been and will probably never go. I'll stick to my fantasy life of mom and pop olive oil and casual pleasantries in Italian.
But back to my simple bean dish. I cooked the beans in simmering water with a head of garlic cut in half, sage, bay leaves, onion, and a pinch of chile until creamy and tender. In a separate pot I sautéed garlic and diced onion in olive oil and that's where I veered off path. Suddenly this simple virtuous vegetarian dish cried out for sausage. There was hot Italian sausage in our CSA box this month and before I knew it I was pan frying links along with the onions. When the sausage was just about cooked through I put it aside and added a few diced tomatoes to cook down into a flavorful sauce. Next went mounds of chopped kale picked fresh from the garden (still a little wet from washing). The kale wilted into the tasty oil and I let it cook until almost fully tender (about 15 minutes) and added in the drained beans, sliced sausage and gave everything a good stir to heat through. Topped with a drizzle of grated parmesan our simple dinner was hearty, rustic and filling if not exactly spa cuisine.