This is a photo of the maple tree in our front garden. This was a few days ago – we’ve some wind the past few days – so, sadly, its lost most of this goregous color. Although this supper of white beans, veggies, and greens is very delish – its not the most beautiful thing you might put in a bowl – hence the photo of our maple tree to feed your senses.
I’ve written this in a vegan version with optional chicken sausage and cheese additions. Beans and pasta are a traditional Italian conbination which generall provides a complete protein. When I do add some chicken sausage to this dish, I add very little, just for a bit of extra flavoring.
I love cannellini beans because they are so creamy and especially good along side veggies that are still a bit crisp. But, other beans would be good here also – perhaps chickpeas.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 – 6 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 lb Italian chicken sausage (optional)
1 large fennel bulb (or 2 small bulbs) stalks removed, chopped roughly
2 15 oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 – 3 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup vegetable broth
1 bunch rainbow chard, chopped finely (the bottom part of the stem removed)
1/2 lb cooked pasta (whole wheat, gluten-free – whatever you like – cooked al dente) (optional)
shredded parmesan or other flavorful cheese (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat, add chopped onion and saute until the onion begins to take on a bit of color. Add garlic and seasonings and continue to saute a few more minutes, stirring constantly so the garlic does not burn. (Add chicken sausage if using at this point. Break up the meat and saute until nearly done.) Add fennel and saute a few more minutes.
Add drained and rinsed beans, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the beans are hot and the tomatoes are starting to break down a bit. Add chopped chard and stir in and cover for a few minutes to wilt. Taste and adjust seasoning – if you intend to use parmesan, which is somewhat saltly – just keep this in mind is adding more salt.
Add pasta if using and serve with a sprinkling of grated cheese if desired.