New Beginnings and Small Things – Tana Ramsay’s Sausage Casserole with Savoy Cabbage and Butter Beans

There is something rather cathartic about the new year.  A whole new beginning, new goals, hopes, dreams and possibilities. It’s almost as if we can wipe the slate clean and start again. We always set out with good intentions, well I do anyway, but as the year flies by things don’t often turn out the way we hoped or planned. As Mr B and I sat in our yoga class at 10 am on new year’s day feeling very worthy, we pondered on this very question when our yoga teacher spoke about new goals and not being too overly ambitious. She explained that sometimes small changes to our lives can have larger lasting effects than we would think as they start a positive knock on effect. I think this was a good piece of advice as we will find more peace within ourselves in the long run if we set more achievable goals. So I for one am going to focus on the smaller things and then perhaps the bigger things will happen naturally.

I am excited about  the recipes I am going to share with you all over the course of  this year and how, I hope, my photography will improve as I get more practice and perhaps even upgrade the camera.

 A wonderful recipe to start this year’s blog posts is one I found years ago when I got hold of a copy of Tana Ramsay’s ‘Family Kitchen‘. I have always felt she has been in the shadow of her rather larger than life husband, but if the truth be told (sorry Gordon) I actually prefer her recipe books to his. Its good old family comfort food, which is a joy to cook and even better to eat. Her ‘Sausage Casserole with Savoy Cabbage and Butter Beans’ is tasty and the perfect meal to eat after a bracing new years winter walk. I have made a few changes from her recipe – I omitted leeks and added more fresh thyme for example, but on the whole I have tried to keep largely to her original. If you like this recipe a very similar one on my blog is Caldo Verde, so check that out as well if you fancy.

So here is what you need:

I like to add a spicy red chorizo, but with little Z and big A eating it as well I decided to cook with a more family friendly chorizo. Chunks of brown fresh bread are the perfect accompaniment to mop up the the bits in your bowl at the end.

Happy New Year to you all, hope 2012 brings health, happiness and joy to you and your families.

Sausage Casserole with Savoy Cabbage and Butter Beans

Serves 4-6

a good glug of olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

1 garlic, chopped

500g/1lb sausages

55g/3oz pancetta, or bacon lardons

a handful of fresh thyme

55g/3oz chorizo sausage, cut into bite sized chunks

1 tin of butter beans, drained

1.5 litres/2.5 pints of vegetable stock

8 mushrooms, sliced

1 savoy cabbage, shredded and core removed

1. In a deep pan, I like to use my favourite Le Creuset cast iron casserole pot, heat up the oil and add the onions and garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes so that they soften. Add the sausage and do not add any further ingredients until they have begun to brown – this may take a further 5 minutes.

2. Add the pancetta and fresh thyme and leeks if you are going to include them as well. Stir well and then add the chorizo so that is begins to sweat and the casserole begins to take on a reddish hue.

3. Add the butter beans, mushrooms and stock and leave to simmer for around 15 minutes.

4. Add the shredded cabbage to the pot. It may look like a lot, but I promise you it will cook down, similar to spinach, when it has been cooking for while. Simmer on a low heat for at least 30 minutes.

Serve in bowls with chunks of bread.

Caldo Verde

Caldo Verde

Caldo verde is otherwise known as Portuguese green soup, or broth, and whilst you can simply cook it as a soup, I tend to make more of a meal out of it and give it centre stage.  Its perfect for autumn or winter as it is satisfyingly hearty and filling. I deviate slightly from the traditional recipe of onion, garlic, cavolo nero/kale and potatoes by also adding 240g (basically one tin) of butter beans and spicy chorizo. It’s satistfyingly easy to make and guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser. If you are passionate, as I am, about stews and soups then this one will really appeal to you. I particularly like to add spicy chorizo to give it that extra kick, but if you cannot find the spicy variety you can simply use normal chorizo and add a sprinkling of paprika on the top before serving.

Caldo Verde

Serves 6-8

400g of spicy chorizo, chopped into slices

700g potatoes, peeled and diced

2 onions, chopped

4 garlic, chopped

200g cavolo nero/kale/greens, thinly chopped

1-2 pints chicken stock (depending on how thick you want the soup)

240g butter beans

3 bay leaves

4 tbs olive oil

pepper and salt, to taste

paprika, pinch on each serving (optional)

1. Place the olive oil in a deep pan – I use my Le Creuset casserole pot – and when it is hot add the chopped onion, on a low heat for 5 minutes. Then add the chopped garlic and stir into the onions.

2.  When the onions have become translucent add the spicy chorizo, which will begin to create a lovely red hue to the onions as the spicy chorizo begins to mix with the onions. Stir for a couple of minutes.

3. Add the diced potato, butter beans (tinned variety) and bay leaves and thoroughly mix into the onion, garlic and chorizo. Add 1 pint of chicken stock and let the soup simmer for approximately 10-15 minutes, by which time the potatoes should be soft.

4. Add the finely chopped greens. I use cavolo nero, which is black kale, but any type of greens works equally well. You may find you need to add some more stock at this stage, depending on how soupy you like your soup.

5. Season with pepper and salt to taste.

Serve piping hot with crusty bread on the side.

Caldo Verde