Thursday, September 1, 2011

Comfort Food

Everyone has their favorite comfort food; that one thing you want to eat when you're sad, depressed, having a bad day, or often when its just ugly and cold outside. For some, its a warm bowl of soup and a nice, doughy roll. For others, its a steaming serving of mashed potatoes.

For a long time, I never really had one dish that just seemed to make everything better...until I started eating gluten free. I realized how much I loved tomato sauce and sausage. It doesn't matter how hot it is outside, or inside, when I crave comfort food, I want spaghetti sauce and sausage. The problem was, this is a dish usually eaten over pasta.

In the beginning, I didn't like any of the gluten-free pastas. I found one made from quinoa that I enjoy the most, but I still don't love anything out there on the market. Then, when we moved further towards a grain free and starch free diet, I just started eating the sauce plain. Plain just didn't seem to be quite as comforting as I remembered.

Enter cannellini beans. I first fell in love with these beans making soup. I love the warm, creamy texture they give and since I'm not a huge meat-eater, the protein the provide was a wonderful addition to my then lack-luster diet. I had these beans in a greek-style tomato dish once and I began to wonder if they would be a decent supplement for pasta. Man, was I surprised. The creaminess of the beans mixed with the spiciness of the sausage was absolutely fantastic. Comfort food or not, this dish has become a menu staple at our house.

PS - it stores very well in the frig and reheats wonderfully in the microwave or on the stove top. I often take leftovers to work for lunch.

Sausage and White Beans

4 Italian sausages, hot or mild
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 - 3/4 cup chicken broth (I make my own. If using store bought, use low-sodium.)
2 cups (1 14-oz can) diced tomatoes
4 cups (2 cans) cannellini beans, cooked, drained and rinsed
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
2 handfuls fresh spinach
Salt and pepper to taste

In a tall sided pan or a larger pot, brown and cook sausages. Remove and allow to cool enough to slice.

Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil to the same pan and caramelize onions for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for an additional minute. Use either chicken broth or 1/4 cup red wine to deglaze the pan. When deglazed, add remaining chicken stock to pan. Add in tomatoes, beans, basil, parsley and sliced sausage (remember to add the juice from the sausage on the plate). Let this simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste...season with salt and pepper.

Right before you're ready to serve, stir in spinach just so it wilts. Serve.

You can serve this over rice, pasta or quinoa if you want. We eat it plain.

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