I've just returned from a few days in Vancouver, visiting my uber-pregnant sister who's now four days overdue. Since coming home, I keep thinking to myself "I wonder if she's having contractions now" about every hour. And it's only a matter of time before I'm right. One of these hours she will be having contractions.
While I was visiting, I stayed one night with my lovely friend Anya and she made us one of her own recipes for dinner. A stew of fennel, canned tomatoes, white beans and fennel sausage. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect dinner on a cool, rainy evening in Vancouver. Needless to say, immediately after getting back I picked up the ingredients I needed to make it for Jeremy and myself.
I call this an Italian stew because it's rustic and simple and uses good quality ingredients. But there's also another reason why I'm calling this an Italian stew. While I was at the grocery store I realized I've become just a little obsessed since my trip to Italy last fall. While standing in the check out wearing my favorite over sized Italian scarf that I bought in Verona, I looked down and noticed a distinctive theme to my groceries. Italian sausages, Italissima canned tomatoes, La Molisana canned white beans and Italian flat-leaf parsley. Serious, it seems a little over the top even to me but I just can't help myself. Italian food really is one of the best in the world.
Try making this stew like an Italian would, adding ingredients without measuring each one out and tasting as you go to adjust the flavours. Add more garlic, chili peppers, salt and pepper until it's just right.
Italian Turkey Stew with Fennel and White Beans (serves 4)
1-2 onions, sliced
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 turkey sausages, remove meat from casing
2 bay leaves
2 cans (28 oz) of tomatoes
1-2 teaspoons red chili flakes
1 can (398 ml) white beans
half bunch of kale or spinach, washed and chopped
Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
dash of balsamic vinegar
In a large pot over a medium heat, saute onions for 10-15 minutes until golden. Add fennel, garlic and the meat of the three sausages. Using a large spoon, break the sausage meat apart and stir being careful not to burn the garlic. Once the meat has browned, add the tomatoes, bay leaves, beans, chili flakes, salt and pepper.
Bring the stew to a boil and then turn the heat down and simmer for about 30 minutes. The key is to continue simmering until the fennel is soft. Also, taste the stew along the way and adjust flavours to your liking. Once the fennel is tender, add chopped kale (or spinach), parsley and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Simmer for a few more minutes until the greens have wilted. Serve and enjoy.