Ahh, September. It's the month that's right in between summer and fall so we get the best of both worlds when it comes to produce. Peaches and tomatoes are still around but we're also seeing pumpkins and apples. Most people are itching for fall to come sooner but I enjoy this time of the year, the very beginning of heartier dishes and cooler days. Today's recipe of braised butter beans with sausage is the exact reflection of that transition. The dish incorporates sweet fresh cherry tomatoes with hearty beans and sausage for one truly satisfying meal. Heck, I wouldn't mind this any time of the year!
Braised Butter Beans with Sausage
- 1 lb dried butter beans soaked overnight
- 10 ounces uncured sausage casings removed
- ½ cup olive oil divided
- 1 ½ cups chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped celery
- ¼ cup minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ cup sherry cooking wine
- 1 cup water
- salt and pepper
- ½ cup crumbled feta
- ½ cup chopped parsley for garnish
- freshly crack black pepper
- crusty bread for serving
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Drain soaked beans and place in a large pot. Fill pot with enough water to cover beans. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 1 hour or until beans are tender but not mushy. Skim the foam from the water while the beans cook. Drain beans, reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid. Place beans in a 9x13 inch baking dish and set aside.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until browned, breaking up sausage into small chunks. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- In the same pan, heat ¼ cup olive oil. Add onion and celery and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 more minute.
- Add back sausage along with tomato paste, tomatoes, parsley, oregano, thyme, red chili flakes, lemon zest, and sherry wine. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add reserved 2 cups cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Season braising sauce with salt and pepper.
- Pour braising liquid over beans, stirring to combine. Add another cup of water and drizzle remaining ¼ cup olive oil on top. Continue cooking beans in oven for 1 hour or until tender.
- Remove braised beans with sausage from the oven. Top with crumbled feta, chopped parsley, and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve with crusty bread if desired.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
There's just something about braised tender beans that speaks to me on another level. Every time I see a picture of buttery braised beans with a drizzle of olive oil, I start to salivate. Anyone else share the feeling?
To make braised beans extra special and perhaps a bit more enticing to others, I paired it with salty sausage, sweet bursting tomatoes, and crumbled feta. All you need is just a few ingredients to make these braised butter beans with sausage really shine.
Before we can begin cooking the beans, we need to soak them. Soaking dried beans rehydrate them and allow for a shorter cooking time. It also makes it cook more evenly.
If you forget to soak them overnight, there is a shortcut. Add the beans to a pot and cover them with water. Bring the pot to a boil and cook the beans for 5 minutes, leaving the pot uncovered. Remove the pot from heat and let the beans soak for 1 hour. Then, drain the beans and continue with step 2 of the recipe.
Simmer the beans for about 1 hour or until tender. We don't want them to be mushy since they're going to continue braising in the oven.
If you're not a fan of butter beans you can use navy beans; however, you will need to adjust the cooking time since they are much smaller.
While the beans are simmering, prepare the braising liquid. This is where we get to add all the wonderful flavors.
Saute sausage until browned, breaking it apart as it cooks. I used uncased pork sausage but you can also use sweet or hot Italian sausage.
Remove the sausage and in the same pot, saute the vegetables. A quarter cup of olive oil seems like a lot but the olive oil will yield the most buttery beans.
Add back the sausage along with the remaining ingredients and simmer the sauce for 5 minutes. Add the reserved cooking liquid from the beans and season it with salt and pepper.
Now pour all of that delicious braising liquid into the baking dish with the beans along with 1 cup of water and yes, more olive oil. Consider the olive oil a Greek touch - and they know what they're doing when it comes to olive oil.
Pop the braised butter beans with sausage in the oven and let it slowly melt away for another hour. The beans will slowly soak in all those flavors and become incredibly delicious.
Remove the dish from the oven and finish it with a sprinkle of crumbled feta, chopped parsley, and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve the meal with a side of crusty bread to soak up all that saucy goodness.
Usually, braised beans are an afterthought, a simple side dish to compliment the real star of the meal. In this case, the braised butter beans with sausage are the star itself. I gladly helped myself to several servings of this comforting dish. It just hits the right spot!
For more Greek food inspiration check out this za'atar roasted eggplant!