ITALIAN SAUSAGE AND BEAN CASSEROLE is an easy & delicious one-pot dinner that’s pure comfort food!
Fall is knocking at the door and will be here before we know it, so it is time to think about all the flavors and comforts of the season as the weather cools down.
Beans are a staple in Italian cooking and are grown through the country. It is an inexpensive way to add nutritional protein without the cost of meat to create a great base for any main dish, soup or side dish. Cannellini (or white kidney beans) are the most popular beans which are from the Tuscan region that produces some of the most comforting dishes and this casserole is no exception.
It all starts with good Italian sausage. I like to use a sweet over spicy because I prefer the ‘kick’ to come from the sauce than the sausage as the spice could overpower the dish if you buy sausages that are on the spicier side. Furthermore, you can also control how spicy the sauce is, but can’t control the spice in the sausage.
Dried beans are a must. Not only is the nutritional value better, canned beans have added sodium and the texture of the finished dish will not be the same. If you use canned they will just turn to mush and you don’t want this. You want them to stand up to the firmness of the sausages and this is where dried beans get the work done. Yes, the preparation takes longer, but in my opinion soaking them overnight is much less work than opening a can. If you are in a time crunch, by all means used canned because this dish makes for a very homey and fast dinner.
- 1 pound/2 1/2 cups dried cannellini/white kidney beans
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 Sweet Italian sausages
- 4 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 1 pound (4) Roma tomatoes chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicier)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
- Add the beans to a large bowl and cover with 8 cups cold water. Cover with a towel for 8 hours to overnight.
- After soaking, bring a large pan of 10 cups water to a boil, add 2 bay leaves and a sprig of rosemary. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered for 50 minutes or until tender. Making sure the water line stays well above the beans, add more water if needed.
- Twenty minutes before the beans are done, heat a heavy pan with lid over medium heat and add the olive oil. Brown the sausages until brown on all sides, remove.
- To the same pan, turn the heat to low and add garlic and rosemary, do not allow to brown.
- Immediately stir in the tomato puree, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and 2 bay leaves. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes add the beans,and stir to mix well. Nestle the sausages into the beans and simmer for a further 10 minutes, covered.