A few years back our little family got invited to another family’s house for dinner. We were just getting to know these people better, our kids went to the same little Christian school together and were about the same ages. From talking to the mom during car pool pick up and drop off I had deducted that this woman was a health nut, nature freak. She gardened, reused, reduced, recycled, had a pottery wheel in her garage and made everything from scratch and/or by hand. She only shopped good will for clothes and home goods. I deducted that this was not because she was short on cash but because she chose to. In fact I would guess that they have a fluffy, more than comfortable nest egg. They are a very structured and rigid family and the kids are worked hard and obedient. You can already tell how different we are, can’t you?
I wasn’t sure what to expect for dinner but I imagined it would be boring and tasteless (I’m a horrible person). When dinner was ready I looked at the table and was a bit confused and disappointed. There was a rounded loaf of bread on the table that I assumed was homemade but I wasn’t sure if it was for us or the tree in the back yard, it was covered in actual bird seed. There was a big kettle of greens floating around in a clear broth and the sides dishes consisted of red grapes, a brick of parmesan cheese and a carafe of balsamic vinegar. I smiled, sat down and during the prayer I made a mental note of what I would order us all from the Hardees drive through across the street.
I was ladled a heaping bowl full and before I could protest, the kind hostess shook the vinegar onto the soup, shaved some fresh parm on top and dropped a handful of grapes as a garnish. I usually don’t mix my sweet and savouries together so I was sure that I would hate it. I felt like the look on my face probably resembled the ones my kids give me when I set their dinner plate down in front of them. To keep up appearances I told the group that it smelled delicious (which it did) and that I couldn’t wait to try it (lie). I took a big spoon full and experienced a flavor explosion like I hadn’t had before. It was hot, spicy, sweet, sharp, layered… it was amazing. I asked her for the recipe because I seriously wanted to go home and make it the next day and for every meal going forward. It was so complex but simple. I hadn’t tasted this combination before and I was determined to tweak it and make it my own.
To this day it remains on my monthly meal plan and I usually serve it to guests or adventurous friends for a fancy lunch. I sent my version into the Rachel Ray show one time when she was having a recipe contest that had to have the word “green” in the title. I never heard back from the show but saw that she too had tweaked it a little, changed the name and claimed it as her own. I call this concoction, Beans and Greens. You make it and you’ll call it good! Enjoy!
- 2 boxes of chicken broth
- 1 bulb of garlic (or use a couple cloves, it depends on how garlicy you like it)
- 1 or 2 lbs of italian sausage (use one if you want, we like meat around here)
- 1 can of northern beans
- red pepper flakes (we like it spicy, this is optional)
- S & P
- bag of baby spinach
- 1 or 2 bags of greens; spring, herb mix, italian mix or even radicchio with shredded carrots (you can basically use anything other than iceberg. If you use Kale you will need to cook it way longer than the other greens, so it would go in first and simmer for like 20 mins. Then add the other greens and spinach)
- shredded parmesan cheese
- red seedless grapes
- balsamic vinegar
- in a wok or dutch oven cook the sausage.
- remove the sausage from pan and place on a paper towel lined plate
- press the garlic and add the red pepper flakes back into the pan (you want the left over grease and sausage bits in there. If there isn’t enough add in a tsp of olive oil
- let the garlic start to break down but don’t let it brown
- Pour in the broth and let it come to a boil
- add in the greens, cover and cook for at least 5 mins
- turn down to low and add back in the sausage and can of drained northern beans
- serve in a big bowl, garnished with S&P, a dash or more if you like of balsamic, shredded parm and red grapes