In case you haven’t noticed by the lagging number of blog posts, it’s already been a hectic holiday season. After a quick scan of the calendar, every weekend is filled with preparations, get-togethers, work functions, etc. So, the problem is what to do when you get home. My first instinct when I get home is to crash, throw on Netflix, and throw myself at a bag of chips until I fall asleep. Not exactly creative, so I’m trying to grab inspiration wherever I can get it, even if it means embracing ingredients that normally don’t scream “delicious!” to me.
A few months back, I had run across a recipe from Real Simple, which is one of the first homekeeping/cooking/lifestyle magazines I’ve read that didn’t make me run screaming for the hills. A recipe that used italian sausage, cannellini beans, and tarragon stuck out to me, mostly because it’s three ingredients that aren’t exactly my favorites. Outside of pasta dishes, I find italian sausage really greasy and heavy. I hate the texture of larger beans like cannellini, something about the grainy squishiness of the inside of a bean has always grossed me out and tarragon is a little too bitter for my taste. However, the recipe haunted me and I figured that now would be as good a time as any to take another step to overcoming my pickiness with this recipe.
I first started by cooking the sausages in a pan with some olive oil. I wasn’t really happy with cooking them this way, I found with the olive oil, the casings were browned too quickly and the insides were undercooked. I had to cook them a lot longer than I wanted to make sure that they were cooked all the way through. I think a better way to cook them would have been to roast them, but then you would miss the fattiness needed when you saute the beans, and onions, and carrots. Maybe in the future, I’ll use vegetable oil, which has a higher smoke point.
Once the sausages were cooked, I removed them, chopped them up, and then sauteed the chopped onions and carrots in the same pan. I love recipes that you can use the richness and fat from the meat to cook the other ingredients, it created here a silkiness in the veggies and beans that brought the whole dish together. Plus, I was really happy with the use of carrots and onions, since they added a sweetness that balanced the tarragon and sausage.
Finally, I added the beans to simmer. I was struck by how “un-beany” the cannellini beans were as far as the smell, which is the most off-putting part of canned beans to me. I’m still not crazy about the texture of beans, but it did add some earthiness to the dish, along with the tarragon. It was a reminder of how powerful combining ingredients can be. On their own, they aren’t what I would consider to be my favorites, but when balanced together, they can create something really tasty and wonderful.