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December 3, 2010

Crockpot White Beans with Kielbasa and Spinach

I ate Cassoulet once at this cafe in Stockholm and it was so delicious that it's haunted me for years. I don't know what it was...the soft white beans, the sausage (I love sausages!), the spinach that wasn't gross (I didn't care for it much before this)...who knows. At the time, I really didn't know what else was in it. For reference, here's a recipe, including a link to make your own duck confit. Seriously.

When I saw that recipe in my Fine Cooking magazine I thought about it for a second and realized there is NO WAY I could ever make that within our grocery budget and with 4 kids constantly interrupting me. Not going to happen. Cooking is like therapy to me, but there's a fine line between good therapy and overpaying someone to stress you out.

So Cassoulet goes on the back burner along with Classic Beef Wellington and Croquembouche and a few other recipes I have stashed away for when my kids have all grown and moved out of the house.

For this recipe, I just sort of used the inspiration of Cassoulet and did it with what I had on hand and it was delicious. Pair it with a baguette to soak up the juices and it's the perfect dinner for a cold evening. Oh, and I totally made it in the crock pot because I wanted to try making beans in the crock pot, so it was even that much simpler and dried beans make it even cheaper so I had the extra money to buy the GOOD baguette and a bottle of Cabernet to go along with it. Mmmmmm....comfort food at it's best.

Crockpot White Beans with Kielbasa and Spinach

8 oz dried white cannelini beans, picked through and soaked overnight
1 small yellow onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary (I was out this time so used 1 tsp dried)

2-3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or make your own!), enough to cover beans by 1"
1 large Kielbasa ring or smoked sausage - I think it's about 1 lb, (how do you call this out on a recipe? I have no idea)

8 oz spinach (or, if you buy it in bags, I think they come in 6 oz bags?) - chopped
olive oil - a little for sweating the onion/garlic, a little for a final drizzle


  1. Heat olive oil in small pan over medium heat - add onion and cook, 3-4 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and cook another minute or two. De-glaze pan with a little of the broth and transfer to a crock-pot set on high.
  2. Add white beans, remaining broth, thyme, rosemary and black pepper. Cover and cook on high, 4 hours. (or, if you make this when you go to work, cook on low and then finish with the steps below)
  3. After 4 hours, add the kielbasa - cook another hour to allow flavors to meld and kielbasa to plump up. I cut mine in large chunks because it was too large for my crockpot, but you could also leave it whole or slice up.
  4. Right before serving, add spinach and stir around until it's wilted - it should only take a couple minutes. Drizzle with a Tbsp of high -quality olive oil and serve in bowls with fresh shaved parmesan on top.

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