Bean and Kale Ragout

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Do you ever find yourself torn between wanting something healthy for dinner, and not wanting to spend a lot of time slaving over a stove? Well, my friends, this is the recipe for you.

This main dish stew is healthy, easy to prepare, and full of comforting flavor. Plus, you’ll probably spend more time chopping the vegetables (which really doesn’t take that long) than you will at the stove.

All of the ingredients are combined in a big pot and then left to get better acquainted, while you relax with a glass of wine (just a suggestion), and look forward to the flavorful white beans and tender kale. Now do you see why I love one-pot meals?

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash cayenne pepper
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Add the olive oil to an extra-deep skillet (a dutch oven or large pot will work too) and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onions and kale and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes, or until the onions soften and the kale wilts.

Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the diced tomatoes (with juice), garlic, chicken broth, bay leaves, oregano, basil, cumin, and cayenne pepper.

Cover and simmer until the kale is tender, about 45 minutes. (Now’s your time to relax – don’t forget your glass of wine!)

Stir in the beans and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Take a bite (careful, it’s hot!) and add some salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with your favorite crusty bread, or try my Olive Oil Toast recipe. Enjoy!

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Sausage and Kale Soup

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Thanksgiving has come and gone, and no matter how delicious your turkey was, it does tend to lose its appeal after eating it five meals in a row. If you’re ready for something different, whip up a batch of this delicious sausage and kale soup. Flavorful Italian sausage combines with potatoes and tender kale (not the kind you see at salad bars) to create a satisfying main dish soup. Be sure to use Yukon Gold potatoes because they have dense flesh and hold their shape when cooked.

6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 package Italian sausage links (mild or spicy)
4-5 Yukon Gold potatoes
1 bunch fresh dinosaur kale (a.k.a. Lacinato kale)
1/4 cup evaporated milk
Ground black pepper to taste

Wash the potatoes and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Cut the thick portion of the stem from the kale leaves and then chop the leaves into 1-inch pieces. Add the chopped leaves to a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Set the potatoes and kale aside.

Remove casing (a.k.a. skin) from sausage by scoring the casing with a sharp knife down the length of the sausage and then peeling off the casing. Add the sausage and chopped onion to a frying pan and cook over medium heat, using a spatula to break up the sausage into small pieces. Continue to cook until the sausage is no longer pink.

Place the cooked sausage and onion in a large pot. Add the chicken broth and potatoes, bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are almost tender.

Add the chopped kale and continue cooking until kale is tender.

Remove the soup from heat, stir in the evaporated milk, and season with black pepper to taste. Serve hot with your favorite Italian bread.

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