Fact: I just spent an inordinate amount of time looking at over-the-top holiday tablescapes on the interwebs and wondering if I do, in fact, need to paint miniature pumpkins, weave a burlap table runner, or teach my roommate the art of homemade candle-making. (The latter because I obviously can’t produce upwards of 15 homemade candles by myself! I will need another pair of hands.) ANXIETY.
Luckily, I’m doing a smaller scale celebration this year with Logan and my mom, so even if I do decide to play tipsy Martha Stewart, I’ll only have to dip-dye three place cards. Hallelujah.
Based on my extraordinary domestic prowess, you’d think I’d be able to pull off a three-person dinner in my sleep, but I’m actually feeling kind of panicky right now. As I’ve mentioned infinity times before, I’m a die-hard traditionalist when it comes to my T-Day menu, but Logan has decided to throw a monkey wrench in my well-laid plans…
Because I want him to feel at home and know that I value his traditions, I asked Logan if his family had any Thanksgiving staples that he’d like me to incorporate into Thursday’s feast.
This was a mistake.
I thought he’d ask for something like cornbread, or maybe a specific type of stuffing, but instead he launched into a multi-item list of his “Thanksgiving requirements.” He claims that he always has pigs in a blanket while he watches football (I don’t have to make my own if I’m short on time, he’s “fine with the frozen kind!”) and 7-layer bean dip. He insists on sausage in his stuffing (“the boss crumbly kind, not the links”), and that I make a green bean casserole. There were several other things, but I think I suffered a rage blackout after the seventh request, and I’m having trouble remembering all of them.
I’m 95% sure Logan is lying about most of these “traditions,” which I will find out for sure by calling his mother. (I’m picturing Logan reading this on the subway, and screaming “Wait! Don’t call my mom! Don’t call my mom!” à la Murray in Clueless.) Once she sets me straight, I’ll figure out exactly how much extra cooking needs to be done and hopefully be able to breathe a little bit easier.
I really don’t want to make a 7-layer bean dip. So gross.
Regardless of what’s on your Thanksgiving menu, Thursday is going to be a BIG cooking day (and maybe even Tuesday/Wednesday for the intense peeps). I find that everyone tends to get so wrapped up in prepping for the extravaganza that the meals leading up to it are often forgotten and/or very sad. And that, friends, is why I’m sharing this Tomato and White Bean Stew with Chicken Sausage with you today instead of yet another T-Day side.
STEW. I love stew, and this one is particularly fabulous. First of all, it’s hearty and comforting without being too heavy (perfect pre-feasting fare), and it’s a total breeze to whip up. I’m talking less than 15 minutes of hands-on time, another 15 minutes simmering on the stove, and bing, bang, boom. DONE. Throw some freshly shaved Parmesan on top, serve it with crusty bread or a grilled cheese, and you’ve got yourself a kickass meal with almost ZERO cleanup. Slow clap.
In addition to this fabulous stew, please consider adding the following one-pot wonders to this week’s meal plan: 20-Minute Chicken Posole, Brown Rice Noodle Soup with Spicy Pork and Greens, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili, Smokey Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Kale, and Brown Rice Jambalaya. They’re all foolproof, fuss-free, and guaranteed to please your nearest and dearest. Godspeed.
Tomato and White Bean Stew with Chicken Sausage: (Serves 4-6)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large links Italian chicken sausage (approximately 6 ounces), diced
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½-1 teaspoon red chili flakes (depending on your heat preference)
5 ounces fresh baby spinach
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano.)
3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
Fresh ground pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Preparing your Tomato and White Bean Stew with Chicken Sausage:
-Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chicken sausage and cook for 4-5 minutes until browned.
-Add the beans, crushed tomatoes and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered for 15 minutes. (If you want a thinner stew, you can always decrease the amount of beans and add extra cup of stock.) Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large links (approximately 6 ounces) Italian chicken sausage, diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½-1 teaspoon red chili flakes (depending on your heat preference)
- 5 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 1½ (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano.)
- 3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
- Fresh ground pepper
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chicken sausage and cook for 4-5 minutes until browned.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste, paprika, oregano and chili flakes and cook for 3 minutes.Add the fresh spinach, and cook, stirring continuously until the leaves are completely wilted, about 3 minutes.
- Add the beans, crushed tomatoes and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered for 15 minutes. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
- Ladle soup into bowls and top with freshly grated Parmesan if you like.
This is a very thick stew. If you'd like something thinner, simply add another cup of stock, or use only 3/4 of the white beans.