Or posh bean stew, if you will. This is another one of those classing Leon recipes that I love so much I end up cooking it at least twice when kale is in season. Kale is something I grew up eating large amounts of – one of those humble vegetables that features a lot in the winter months in Europe. Here in England it doesn’t seem to be fashionable enough, and with the shift away from seasonality brought on by supermarkets I can understand why – why would you eat these nondescript shredded greens when you can have tomatoes in November! Unfortunately few people think twice about how those pale orange November tomatoes will taste, compared to less easy eating veg that is however in its prime at this time of the year.
Luckily there are still sensible food retailers out there, and champions of the again-fashionable seasonality such as Riverford deliver locally grown kale on the stalk – take note Tesco, when you shred vegetables they begin to lose vitamins and nutrients very quickly. Far be it from me to judge people who buy prepared vegetables, it comes down to personal preference. I do still think no one is too busy to peel a carrot, and by buying veg as nature intended you are doing your body a big favour. And here’s hoping that kale will experience a revival, what with its superfood status and amazing versatility. Apparently kale is high in vitamin C and A and contains six times more calcium than the infamous broccoli and more than spinach, milk or yogurt. I have now taken to making eggs Florentine for breakfast substituting spinach with kale. Kale also comes in interesting varieties, including baby curly kale and cavolo nero. Kale crisps anyone?
So that was a bit of a rant, and it’s now over. Let’s talk about this delicious rustic casserole. This is another one of those meals that seems to stretch forever, especially if you eat it with a carby side of crusty white bread or crushed potatoes. Not a carb lover, I ate this on its own – with the healthy amount of beans that goes in I don’t really see the point of a side. You might be surprised by the addition of cream, however it adds a touch of class to this definitely rustic dish – and makes delicious juices for you to mop up with your bread. And it smells delicious too – I love taking this to the office as my packed lunch to reheat and feeling smug as my colleagues tuck into their soggy sarnies and eye my enticing lunch box enviously.
Kale, Sausage and Flageolets Casserole (serves 4-5)
200g dried flageolet beans (hippy food shops or Waitrose)
8 thick sausages, cut into bite sized chunks
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
1 large red onion, diced
600ml chicken stock
75ml double cream
300g kale, stalks removed, shredded
flat leaf parsley
salt & pepper
Begin by soaking the beans overnight. I would not recommend tinned beans as they won’t hold their shape very well. When you’re ready put them in a pot with a bay leaf and a few peppercorns and allspice if you like (optional), cover with water (unsalted) and cook until tender but not falling apart. This takes about an hour.
Heat the oil in another large pot – preferably a thick bottomed casserole dish. Fry the sausage chunks until golden. Turn the heat down and add the onions, rosemary and garlic, make sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Pop the lid on and cook for about 15 minutes for the onions to soften.
Pour in the drained beans, chicken stock and add seasoning if required. Bring to a simmer, cook for about 30 minutes before adding the kale. Give it another 20 minutes of gentle simmer, then stir in the cream, check the seasoning and you’re done. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley and with or without crusty bread or crushed boiled potatoes.