Dark Days Challenge–Sausage, Kale and Cranberry Bean Sauté

I follow a lot of blogs…probably too many (I’d rather not calculate, but it’s probably more than 100). One that I enjoy is Not Dabbling in Normal. It’s a group of 10 bloggers who share stories about their attempts to cook and live in more traditional (and therefore “Not Normal”) ways. They are hosting a challenge where fellow bloggers are asked to cook at least one meal per week of SOLE food (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) . The goals is to make meals using only foods from less than 150 miles away, with the exception of spices, chocolate, coffee and oils.

As I plotted my first post, I decided to add the additional challenge of only using things I already had in my house (or maybe I just hadn’t had a chance to go shopping with the challenge in mind…). In any case, I raided the freezer and my garden, and was able to create a fantastic, entirely local, one-dish meal.

I began with some proscuttio. And yes, it is local! I made it myself this summer, with pork belly from a local pig. A fellow vendor was doing a pork butchery demo at the San Francisco Underground Market, using a small local pig. After he finished, I bought the two bellies from him, and used one to cure bacon and one for prosciutto. I froze segments of the finished prosciutto, and have been doling them out throughout the fall. I thinly sliced pieces of prosciutto, and sauteed them until crispy, then removed to drain on a paper towel. One benefit of starting with the prosciutto was that the pan was nicely greased for the next addition, the sausage. Definitely don’t drain off the fat, as you’ll use it as a cooking medium for the rest of the components (no non-local oil needed)!

The Bratwurst sausages were purchased from Riverdog Farm, located outside of Sacramento in Guinda, about 99 miles from me. They primarily specialize in vegetables, but several times a year, they have pork available by the box. I bought a 20 lb. mixed box of pork this summer using the Bay Area Meat CSA. It’s not really a single CSA–it’s more of a message board that connects Bay Area residents with nearby farmers, organized by our local Slow Food chapter. Farmers post about meat and eggs they have for sale, and groups can coordinate to purchase in bulk to save time and money. Over the last few years, I’ve gotten a half a Berkshire-Tamworth heritage pig and 1/10 of a grassfed cow using the board, among other things. It’s been a great way to support local farmers who are raising animals in natural ways, and to get to know more local foodies as well!

The rest was easy. After the sausage finished cooking, I removed it to rest, and added in 2 diced medium onions. They were about as local as you get, coming from my stash grown this summer in my garden. I added diced garlic, also from my garden stash–waiting until the onions were already softened. Garlic burns easily, so I always add it later than the onions.

Then came kale! Kale grows like a weed in my garden, and I usually have it year-round. The plants I have growing now are actually a year old. We had such a cool summer here in Oakland that they never bolted. So they are about 3 feet tall, basically spindly sticks with a pouf of green leaves at the top. But they are still going strong, so I keep eating kale. I picked about 6 large leaves, and tore the leaves into chunks, tossing them into the pan. You definitely don’t want to add the rib, which is really tough, unlike chard. I like tearing it, as it is easy to leave the spine behind.

Sauté just until the kale wilts, then add the beans. I used the Cranberry beans I had purchased fresh at the farmer’s market this summer and froze, but any firm pre-cooked bean–like cannellini–should work well (even from a can, if you’re not trying to make a SOLE meal!). I took them out of the freezer to thaw the day before, so they were cool but not frozen.

While the beans warmed up, I cut the cooled sausage into slices. After the beans were ready, I added the sausage back into the pan to mingle with the other ingredients. I finished by deglazing with some white wine (I used a good Napa chardonnay–thankfully, only 46 miles away). I felt like it was still lacking something, so I raided the garden for some herbs, finding sage and chives that I added at the end, for some fresh flavor. I also diced the cooked prosciutto and sprinkled it on the top of the bowl, so it stayed crispy.

Sausage, Kale and Cranberry Bean Sauté 

 (serves 3)                                                             SOLE Factor

3 pork sausages (about .75 lbs)                   99 miles, organic

2 cups cooked Cranberry Beans                  Farmer’s Market purchase, organic

2 oz thinly sliced Prosciutto (or Bacon)   Farmer’s Market purchase, sustainable

2 medium onions (or one large) diced      Grown organically in my garden

3 cloves garlic, minced                                    Grown organically in my garden

1 bunch (about 6-8 leaves) kale, torn        Grown organically in my garden

1/2 cup white wine                                            46 miles–not organic or biodynamic

6 sage leaves, diced                                           Grown organically in my garden

2 tbsp diced chives                                            Grown organically in my garden

Dig in and enjoy your local meal! This was a really easy meal, but definitely not a combination I would have tried had I not been scouring my house for SOLE ingredients. I really enjoyed this process, and am looking forward to the inspiration it is sure to provide in the months to come!

To the new folks coming by due to the challenge, thanks for visiting my blog–I hope you come back and visit throughout the Dark Days challenge and beyond.



Filed under Dark Days, Main Dishes

4 responses to “Dark Days Challenge–Sausage, Kale and Cranberry Bean Sauté

  1. itsjusttoni

    OH! MY! GOSH! Beans… and sausage… and bacon… and greens… and garlic! What’s not to love? Nom! Nom! Nom!! Great SOLE too!

    Visiting you from the Dark Days Challenge. Looking forward to reading more of your blog!

  2. Love this combination. I need to find a source for beans, as I love sausage, greens and beans.

  3. Teresa

    Thanks for the tip on the Bat Area Meat CSA! Fabulous-looking recipe, too.

  4. Becky from Kitchen Solo

    Thanks so much for all of the sweet comments! I’m really looking forward to getting to know all of my fellow Dark Days posters.

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