So easy even a caveman could make it

October 18, 2009

There's an awesome pizza place in my hometown of Beaver, PA, called Mario's. It's BYOB, serves a-frickin-mazing wood-fired oven pizza, and makes the most delicious chicken piccata pasta. These are all factors that make it the best place to eat in downtown Beaver. Plus there's a 92% chance you'll see my brother's friend Ryan there.

Mario's is also the first place I tried what is now my favorite speedy weeknight dinner. It's called beans and greens, and it might be the best complete dinner on the planet that can be ready in less than 20 minutes. You can use any kind of greens. Kale makes a nice hearty meal, spinach is soft and silky, and swiss chard is a happy medium between the two. I probably wouldn't use collard greens, because they take forever to cook. My trick to delicous kale and chard is to cut the stem out. The stems take longer to cook, and if you leave them in, the stems can be stringy in your final product. You could also use a hard sausage (like one of those fancy sticks of salami) here with delicious results.

Beans and greens
Serves 2-3

2 links fresh sausage, or 4 oz. hard sausage
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1 bunch greens, de-stemmed and roughly chopped (no need to de-stem spinach)
1/2 cup chicken broth, beer or water
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Heat large skillet over medium heat. If you're using fresh sausage, squeeze it out of the casing and roughly break it up with a spatula. If you're using hard sausage, chop it into 1/4 inch half moons. Either way, brown the sausage. (I never add oil when browning sausage, because it has enough fat to get going on its own.) Add the sliced onion and cook just until starting to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and hot pepper flakes. Cook 30 seconds. Add the greens, turning them with tongs to equally wilt them. Add the liquid, and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. If you're using kale or chard, turn the heat to low and cover and cook until the greens are tender, about 5-7 minutes for kale and 3-5 minutes for chard. You won't need to do this for spinach, because it wilts and softens so quickly.

Stir in the beans and warm through, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and add the vinegar. Taste your final product to see if it needs salt. Because sausage and canned beans can be really salty, you might not need any. This is also great accompanied by some crusty bread.