A Winning Weeknight Dinner

Full disclosure here: I think I knew the winner of my Go-to Weeknight Dinner Contest almost as soon as I spied the Sausage, Kale, and Bean Stew entry submitted by  “anna” on Day 1 of the contest. Every recipe that came in after this one, as far as I was concerned, had to pass the anna test — as in, is it as appealing sounding as anna’s stew? Because Anna’s Stew had all the hallmarks of a keeper in my house including:

1) A Quick Cook Time – from start to finish it took me about 20 minutes
2) A Forgiving Technique – For 10 of those minutes I was ignoring the sizzling sausages as I sat with my 7-year-old testing her on multiplication flash cards. It didn’t seem to affect the dish in the slightest.
3) An Easy Marketing Plan – It contained two solid ingredients that I could count on my kids eating without a fight (sausages and kale)
4) An Adventure Factor – It contained one (easily extractable) ingredient that I’ve been meaning to push on the kids (cannelini beans)
5) It was really f*%#@*g good!!!

However narrow-minded I was about choosing the winner, I remind you that one family’s keeper might be another family’s pet food, so please head over to the contest post to check out all 78 submissions (so awesome, btw — a big thank-you to everyone who sent something in) because there are a ton of delicious-sounding options. If I was giving out honorable mention, “bugawa” (#43) was a close second with her Jacques Pepin-inspired pork medallions in wine sauce — so tasty, but couldn’t compete with the one-dishiness of anna’s stew. And “Joanna’s” (#59) strategic two-in-one meal plan was incredibly hard for me to pass up (you can take the girl out of Real Simple) but sadly, included pasta, which my 9-year-old still won’t touch. (Why, God, why??)

Anna wins a $75 gift certificate to Allmodern.com. Thanks for playing everyone.

Anna’s Sausage, Bean, and Kale Stew
I halved the recipe for my family of four (if Abby ate 2 sausages, as called for here, she’d be eating about twice her own weight) but this below is written to serve 6 normal eaters or about 8 bird-like ones. Anna called for the sausages to be sliced into rounds after being browned — which might be more appealing for the kids — but I found it easier to crumble the meat with a fork in the first step.

Saute 1 onion (chopped) in Dutch Oven in a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until softened. Add 2 garlic cloves (minced), salt, pepper, and a few flakes of crushed red pepper. Add in 8 links of Italian chicken or pork sausage (casings removed, crumbed with a fork) and cook until brown and heated through. Add one 32-ounce container chicken broth (add less if you like your stews more chunky, less brothy), a 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, and 2 14-ounce cans cannellini beans (rinsed and drained). Bring to a boil. Add 1 large bunch kale, simmer until wilted, about 3 minutes. Serve with a lot of freshly grated Parmesan and crusty bread.

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Minty Pea Todd

Nice decision DALS! The judges took their charge seriously and produced a beautiful verdict. I’m confident one of my two young rebels will devour this one without a peep. The other one gets stuck with honey milk.


Another reason why I might be inclined to choose this as the winner…. I happen to already have all those ingredients here in my kitchen!! Guess what I’m making for dinner tonight. Thanks, Anna!


Minty Pea – I think I need to have honey milk for dinner tonight. Sounds like a good detox meal!


I remember I had kale in my fridge when that recipe was posted, but I ended up making kale chips instead. However, this soup will be on the menu the next time kale is in the fridge. Thanks Anna!


Sounds delicious and substitutions abound. Collard greens instead of kale, leaner (I think) and less expensive pork butt instead of the sausage — plus a little crusty bread will go a long way mopping up.


Yum, that sounds good!! I love that the beans are easily removed (though it is my husband in this case who will object). We’ll be trying this tomorrow!


Any chance you could pick a runner-up that’s vegetarian, or at least red-meat-less?


Made this last night for dinner! YUM… so easy and adjustable. We added more garlic (husband loves garlic) and let it simmer for quite some time while we watched Idol (guilty pleasure) and ate it with crusty french bread. Delish! Thanks


Thanks for the honorable mention! I figured that my non-one pot pork medallions meal would be a long-shot, but it’s such a big hit with my family that I couldn’t resist submitting it. (Probably very obnoxious for me to ask, but any chance I could get one of your awesome bumper stickers for my effort??…hee hee…No worries– how much are they anyway?)


Just now cleaning up what little was left behind in the bowls. Loved by all – even my unpredictable 2 year old.


We made this for dinner tonight — yum!! Definitely a keeper! (I omitted the salt and it was still plenty salty with the sausage.)


i know this because i’ve stumbled on almost the same combo –difference is i use chard cuz i’m over kale.


Isabel Ahmann

I make a stew very similar to this but it comes out as an Italian white bean stew since it is made with Italian sausage. The secret ingredient is sage. I put a lot of sage, whole leaves or sliced thin. It is absolutely delicious!


Finally made this and it was a hit with my husband and teenaged boys, even though it included kale! I used full 32oz homemade chicken broth, then added 6oz can of tomato paste. Thickened it up to make a very hearty stew. Quick, easy, delicious!

Math Problem Solver

I was curious if you ever considered changing the layout of your blog?

Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of
content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of
text for only having one or 2 images. Maybe you could space it out better?


So I have had this recipe on constant rotation for years – love it. Just had the thought of swapping out the beans for black eyed peas for New Years – what do you think?