Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sadie's Cannellini, Chicken, Swiss Chard and Kale Stew

I love winter soups and stews!  This is a very nutritious, light and perfect winter stew for the family. 

My garden this summer consisted of several different organic vegetables; some of our favorite greens in the garden this year were the Italian Kale and Rainbow Swiss Chard.  Kale is a member of the cabbage family, but it does not grow a head like cabbage, it is a leafy plant, but the flavors are very similar (tastier) than cabbage.  The kale that we grew in our garden this year was a deep green/purple color and a flat leaf, not the curly leaf as found in most grocery stores.  Our kale did survive the winter storm and the cold weather, so I cut the few leaves that were still in the garden for this delicious stew.  Swiss Chard is a member of the beet family and it is a beautiful green leaf with reddish-purple, yellowish veins and stalk.  It is delicious in soups, salads or as a roll stuffed with rice...mmmm, delicious!

Kale and Swiss Chard are very nutritious and known as a great source to have in your diet during the winter as it is high in vitamins A, C, folic acid, calcium and iron; all the wonderful vitamins we need during the winter season. 

This is a very easy stew to make and the prep time took me about 10 minutes.  My family loves these green vegetables and this recipe sure complimented the greens well! 

An excellent winter stew filled with lots of great vitamins!

Cannellini, Chicken, Swiss Chard and Kale Stew

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
1 chicken breast, cut into bite sizes (1 inch)
3-4 leaves of kale, chopped into bite sizes (1 inch)
3-4 leaves of swiss chard, chopped into bite sizes (1 inch)
1 garlic clove, minced
32 ounces of chicken stock (preferably organic)
28 ounces plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded and chopped
2 (15 oz) cans of cannellini or fresh made cannellini (see recipe below for fresh)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon sage
(Chef notes on herbs: I used fresh herbs and used approximately 1-2 tablespoons of each after they were chopped finely)
2-4 tablespoons of tomato paste to thicken stew


Preheat oven to 350*degrees

In an 8 quart oven proof soup pot; on medium low heat, add the olive oil (evoo) and saute the onion until tender.  Add the rest of the ingredients except the tomato paste to the soup pot.  Bring to a boil and return the heat to low.  Stir frequently and adjust flavor of soup with salt or herbs after 15 minutes, to allow the chicken to cook thoroughly. Place the oven proof soup pot with lid in the oven and cook for 45 - 50 minutes.  Return to stove top; on low heat, stir in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste (at a time) until the stew thickens to your liking.  You may not need to add the tomato paste, but we like our stew slightly thick.  Serve with your favorite bread.

Yields 6-8 servings

Chef Notes:  I used a ceramic bean pot to cook this stew and it turned out delicious.  I love using my ceramic pots to cook all sorts of stews in the oven.  If you own one and it is stove top safe as well as oven safe, I would recommend to use it; the flavors turn out tastier.

Cannellini Beans

1 pound dry Cannellini beans
4 fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, whole

Soak beans overnight.  Drain beans and discard water. Place beans, sage, olive oil garlic and 12 cups of water in a soup pot.  Cover with the lid and cook on medium-low heat for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until tender.   When beans are tender, drain the beans and store in the refrigerator until needed for stew or in a salad. 

Chef notes:
This recipe makes more beans than needed for stew.  It is always great to have fresh beans on hand.  If you want to freeze the beans, be sure to keep the liquid they were cooked in and when cooled, place them in a freezer proof container (I use Pyrex) or a ziplock freezer bag with liquid.  If you use a freezer bag, be sure to seal with a little air in the bag, so that there is room for expansion in the freezing process for the liquid.  Place the bag flat in the freezer on a sheet pan, until fully frozen; then remove sheet pan.  Having a sheet pan underneath the bag will collect any liquid if you did not seal it properly.

                       Buon Appetito!

Toad In The Hole

Oh the curious Toad-In-The-Hole British recipe.  Yes, that is right, "Toad in the Hole."    It is very peculiar to me, why this tasty dish would be named toad in the hole, but, leave it to the British to come up with the most humorous names for dishes.  I found several interesting notes on the Internet on this dish and some that I will not write as it is not very appetizing.  It is an 18th century recipe that apparently has a lot of arguable points on the naming and the origin of this dish.  I reckon that this recipe in the 18th century, was a way to stretch a meal by adding batter to the meat, just as Italians in southern Italy would stretch their meals by adding more sauce to the meat and pasta dishes.    It is a very popular and a well known dish amongst the British; it is such a great "Pub" food item along with Bangers and Mash.  In our home, my family truly enjoys toad in the hole as dinner, lunch or even as a breakfast meal and we often have "Bangers and Mash with Heinz Beans" - yes, this is the only can of beans that I will open in my house as it is a MUST according to my husband (no argument there). 

When I prepare Toad-In-The-Hole for my family, I sometimes make them individually in a muffin pan,  so that we can enjoy them for breakfast and lunch.  It's a great idea to have in the refrigerator for an after school treat as well. 

When Jamie's recipe calls for "Quality Sausage", truly, we all mean "Quality Sausage"! and that would be a British version of sausage also knows as "Bangers" which is most delicious. Bangers are white in appearance, and are composed primarily of pork butt, a small amount of breadcrumbs, and water. They are normally pleasantly spiced with both sweet and savory spices. The average banger will have both salt and pepper, as well as sage, ginger and mace or allspice. Spices differ depending upon the brand.

Now, we call the English sausage at home as a "British" banger sausage, but the Irish will probably argue that they are the ones that introduced this version of sausage to the British.  No arguments from me, I'm just glad they exist!
You may be able to find the English sausages (bangers) in your local grocery stores or at a specialty store that sells British groceries.  If you cannot find these sausages, I am sure that whatever your choice of sausage, it will be just fine for this recipe.

I used Jamie Oliver's recipe for Toad-In-The-Hole with this very tasty "Onion Gravy" recipe that accompanies the toad in the hole quite deliciously.  I will direct you to Jamie's web site for the recipe

Whatever the history or the origin of this recipe, I will assure you, that you will really enjoy it.  Hey, here in America, I make these for Superbowl!!  Enjoy Mate!

Toad-In-The-Hole and Onion Gravy