pasta, sausages and white beans

Recently, I heard an expression that stayed with me: In the cold, we warm ourselves. What else can we do, when weather, illness and boredom combine to make this start to the year a little less sweet than we hoped?

On a recent gloomy day, I went to the kitchen at the appointed time to start dinner. When you don’t have a meal plan, it helps to have a pocket recipe, a dish you can combine with things you have on hand that taste greater than the sum of its parts. This recipe is one of them, and every time I make it, it gets the biggest compliment from a family member: “I could eat this every week!” Often we do.

I have most of the ingredients for this combination of bubbling pasta, sausage and beans on hand at all times. There’s always chicken broth in the freezer (or pantry), along with a packet of sausages. Sometimes, if I dig deep enough, I can scare away a parmesan crust. In the pantry there is always a can of white beans, half a can of pasta, garlic, red pepper flakes. And in the fridge, I always have a piece of parmesan. Often the only thing I miss is a bunch of kale, but sometimes I have some too; it has the advantage of tasting very well in winter and keeping for a very long time in the refrigerator.

So here’s what you do: First, you boil salted water and cook the dregs of a can of pasta. Any short form will work – give me your farfalle, your rigatoni, your casarecce, your fusilli, eager to be used. You drain and rinse a can of beans – I prefer white beans, but you can use chickpeas or pintos in a pinch. After cooking and draining the pasta, you cook the sausage (using the same pot you used for the pasta, please; this cabin fever remedy is also a one-pot supper), and when it is still a little pink, pour in the chicken broth. In the pot goes a fair amount of minced garlic and, if you dug up any, that Parmesan cheese rind. If you’re not someone who saves parmesan crusts — or always buys grated cheese on a piece — this might be the year you change your ways. I store all my cheese crusts in the freezer and put them in soups all winter long to add salty umami to the broth.

To the simmered, savory matrix, you add a small bunch of kale, stemmed and cut into ribbons, and once it has become all soft, a few tablespoons of chopped garlic and grated parmesan cheese. When you’re ready to serve dinner, stir in the beans and pasta and allow to warm through, then ladle the meal into warmed bowls, drizzle it with a blizzard of parmesan cheese, and check the calendar: spring is just around the corner. at 56 days. Until then, we make our own heat.

Jessica Battilana is a freelance writer and author of “Repertoire: All the Recipes You Need.” Instagram: @jbattilana Email: [email protected] Twitter: @jbattilana

One-pot broth pasta with kale, white beans and sausage

If you think you won’t eat this all at once, it’s best to add the pasta directly to individual serving bowls rather than to the pan. Otherwise, the pasta will absorb all the broth. Kale (or escarole) can be used in place of lacinato, if preferred. If you’re using store-bought chicken broth, opt for a low-sodium variety, as the sausage and Parmesan cheese both contribute to the seasoning.

For 4 people

8 ounces of mini farfalle, rigatoni, casarecce or fusilli

2 teaspoons of olive oil

1 pound mild or hot Italian sausages, casings removed

4 cups of chicken broth

2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 5 large cloves)

1 small bunch of lacinato (dinosaur) kale, stemmed and cut into ribbons (about 8 cups)

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

1 (14 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Chili oil, for serving, if desired

Fill a large, high-sided saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Generously salt the water then add the pasta and cook for a few minutes less than indicated on the package; it should be al dente. Drain, transfer to a bowl and toss with the olive oil.

Return the pan to medium heat, add the sausage and cook, breaking up the pieces with a wooden spoon, until still slightly pink, about 6 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, add the garlic and Parmesan bark, if using and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the kale (it will seem too much at first, but it will shrink) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale wilts. Stir in the parmesan and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Stir in beans and pasta, spoon into warmed bowls and top each serving with more grated Parmesan and a drizzle of chili oil, if using.

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