GOOD GRAIN MEALS: Quinoa with Roasted Tomatoes, Avocado, and Pesto; Chipotle Barley Salad with Corn, Zucchini, and Radishes; Cous Cous with Blue Cheese and Pears; Vegetarian Fried Rice with Shiitakes and Cashews
Just dropping in to share the kind of recipe you, too, might make if you found yourself on a Thursday with a reasonably well stocked pantry, a lot of kale (or other greens you picked up at the farmers’ market back on Saturday), and two sweet Italian sausages that you bought from the very same farmers’ market for way too many dollars and which are threatening to go bad if you don’t find a way to integrate them into this week’s meal plan, a meal plan that has already incorporated more meat than you really like to eat.
When I make grain dishes, they’re usually vegetarian throw-together meals modeled, to some extent, off of the unexpected combinations of grains and veggies and nuts and dressings that Heidi at 101Cookbooks throws together so well. So when I committed to finishing the package of sausage, which, admittedly, was not a big deal, (it was excellent sausage), I decided that I’d balance out the flavorful meat with a selective handful of lighter components. I gravitated towards greens, beans, and pasta (in the form of cous cous), all ingredients I might have paired with sausage one by one. Together, they turned the sausages into a meat-lite one-dish supper that I packed for lunch for about the next four days but managed not to get tired of.
From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Cous Cous with Sausage, Kale, and White Beans
1 1/2 cups cous cous
1 bunch kale, trimmed of the thick stalk in the middle
2 mild Italian sausages
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white beans, rinsed
3 tablespoons white wine
Large handful of basil leaves, chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
First, make the cous cous: bring 1 1/2 cups water to boil in a small saucepan with a lid. When it boils, add the couscous and 1/4 teaspoon salt, give it a good stir, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let sit for 10 minutes, or until the other components are ready.
Next, make the kale. Bring a big pot of water to boil. Add a couple teaspoons salt and the kale. Boil for 12-15 minutes, until the kale is tender. Reserve 1 cup of the water, then drain the kale. When it’s cool enough to handle, chop it into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
Onto the sausage. Remove the sausage from its casings and break into small chunks. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sides of the sausage are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Scoop up the sausage and transfer to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium and put in the garlic. Cook for about 1 minute, just until softened (but keep a careful watch, since the pan will be hot from cooking the sausage). Add the beans. Add the wine and stir to scrape up any bits of sausage stuck to the pan. Let the wine simmer and reduce til it just films the pan, then add 1/2 cup of reserved kale water and reduce again.
Add the sausage back in, then add the kale. Stir the cous cous in its pot to get rid of any clumps, then add that too. Add the basil and the parm, stir the whole thing together. Serve hot or room temperature.