If you're looking for something filling and flavorful that comes together quickly, this is it. This dish has a bright, tomatoey sauce with beans, fresh herbs, your favorite type of Italian sausage, and is finished with either wilted kale or spinach. My favorite way to serve this is over creamy polenta with parmesan, but you could put it over rice or even mashed potatoes for a quicker meal. Easily make this meal vegetarian by swapping the sausage for beyond meat and using vegetable broth instead of chicken.
1 lb Italian sausage (or 4 beyond meat sausages)*
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz can cannellini beans or other white beans, drained and rinsed
1½ cup chicken (or vegetable broth for vegetarian)
1 bay leaf
1 small sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1 bunch kale, stems removed, roughly chopped or two large handfuls of fresh spinach (~2 oz), roughly chopped
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
6 large fresh basil leaves, sliced thinly
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat a large pan with high sides on medium heat, brown the sausage on all sides. Remove and slice into pieces 1/2 inch thick. Remove any excess grease from the pan.
Add onion to pan, lower heat and cook onion until it is translucent and soft.
Add garlic; cook for about 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Add crushed tomatoes, beans, vegetable broth, bay leaf, rosemary, crushed red pepper (if using), and return sausage to the pan.
Bring mixture to a simmer and cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until the flavors begin to meld.
Add kale (or spinach) and cook until wilted.
Remove from heat, add parmesan and fresh basil.
Stir to combine and serve.
Note: For the cheesy polenta I use Paula Wolfert's method. I use 2 cups of milk and 3 cups of water for every cup of polenta. When it's finished, I mix in 1/2 cup of grated parmesan and serve. It takes time for the polenta (about an hour), but I find it's worth it. It also doesn't require any supervision while it cooks (since it cooks in the oven like magic), so you can get it started while you have that last zoom meeting of the day, and have dinner almost ready when you're finished.
*Tip: Sometimes the casing from the beyond meat sausage comes off in an unappealing way when it's sliced and then added to sauce. My preference is to remove it form the casing altogether and cook it as sausage crumbles in the pan. You can also do this with your regular sausage if you'd like to skip the step of slicing, but you'll need to remove it from the casing before cooking for best results.