Sunday, August 18, 2013

Balsamic Butter Beans with Smoked Sausage and Spinach for Lunchbox #SundaySupper



It was 1973, and along with learning to read, and tying my shoes, I learned that there was nothing as fun and exciting as travel.  Even if it was just a weekend trip to Nana and Grampy's.

My Mom would pack up my pint-sized red flowered suitcase, and off I'd go... for weekends filled with trips to the Farmer's Market for fresh strawberries, that we'd later dip into sugar.  And big, thick steaks, that my Grampy was "in charge of," at the grill... while Nana and I would hang out in the air conditioned house.  Her reading the latest issue of Reader's Digest, and I, the latest adventures of a very curious monkey and The Man with the Yellow Hat.

I was three, and even then, my most vivid memories of my Grandparents were associated with food...

Nana, and the fact that she could not only peel an entire apple in one long swirl.  But also, that she knew all the fun food joints... I'd like a cheese dog with my A&W Root Beer, please.  And Grampy, and his bean soup.

The story always changed, but the beans would remain the same.  There were kidney beans, and white beans, and pinto beans, and don't forget the lima beans.  And while we never actually made his "famous" bean soup, the very description of it always made me laugh.

My Grampy never met a bean he didn't like.


So, this week, I wanted to create something really fun, really simple, and really cost-effective for our Lunchbox Sunday Supper theme (thanks Liz from That Skinny Chick can Bake, for hosting!)  And the first thing that came to mind was Grampy and his silly stories of beans.

And what could be more cost effective than beans? 

I headed out to the grocery store to check out my bean options.  I knew I wanted a bean that was a bit heartier.  One that could hold it's own against the bolder flavors of the smoked sausage, while not getting lost in the spinach.  So, I grabbed a bag of lima beans, but once I got them home, I didn't know what to do with them.  Honestly, the thought of trying lima beans was about as scary to me now, as was trying Brussels Sprouts at age three.  The only beans I'd used in the past, came straight out of a can, and were mostly for making hummus.

But, I did some research and found they are also called butter beans, because they have a buttery flavor.  And you know what?  It's true! 

Rich and buttery, these beans created the perfect base for the salty, sweet and spicy flavors of this hearty bean dish.

Balsamic Butter Beans with Smoked Sausage and Spinach
1 bag of dried lima beans, soaked overnight and cooked according to package directions (see below)
1 package smoked sausage, cut in small half moons (I used Hillshire Farms Angus)
1 large red onion, diced
2 cups fresh spinach, torn
1/4-1/2 cup chicken broth (add more if gets too thick)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
A few sprinkles of dried basil
7-8 dashes hot sauce, (I used Cholula- use more or less depending on taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (or parsley if you don't like cilantro)
Olive oil

The night before, soak the lima beans.  When ready to use drain water well and rinse a few times.  Add into a large pot and cover with about 2" water.  Bring to a boil and then turn down heat to medium and partial cover pot with lid.  Make sure NOT to salt them, as this will increase the cooking time substantially.  Cook about 45 minutes until tender.  Drain.

Meanwhile, sauté the cut up sausage and red onion in olive oil for about 7 minutes, or until sausage is cooked through.  Add in chicken broth, vinegar and basil, hot sauce, salt, pepper and spinach and cook another 2 minutes or so to wilt the spinach.  Pour in beans and gently fold together.

Check for seasonings and sprinkle on chopped cilantro.  Serve at room temperature or refrigerate.

Hungry for more? Here is what the rest of the gang packed up in their brown bags.

Sandwiches, Wraps and Entrees:
Munchies, Salads and Sides:
Sweet Treats:

18 comments:

  1. You so vividly describe the warm memories of yesterday. My grandmother, Nona, always had the Reader's Digest and a stack of Ladies' Home Journal magazines too.

    Very cool, indeed, that your grandma was able to peel and apple in one stroke.

    And bravo, Diana, for a very health and undoubtedly tasty tribute to your grandpa =)

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    1. Thanks Kim! Those were such fun times, and I love that your Nona also read Reader's Digest... mine read LHJ too ;-) This was a fun one to make, and it turned out really tasty!!!

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  2. Wow! Yum! What a great combination! It looks delicious!!

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    1. Thanks! Hope you give it a try ;-)

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    1. Thanks Nicole!!! Appreciate you stopping by!

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  4. Coffee beans are my favorite, but Butter Beans are in the top 10! Great story, Di!

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    1. Yes!!! Coffee Beans... then butter beans ;-) Thanks, Cindy!

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  5. I love how your turned his soup in to a salad! Lima beans were one of my favorites when I was a kid... everyone thought I was so weird.

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    1. Lol! Too funny, Lauren! Can't believe I'd never tried them... I'm hooked! ;-)

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  6. This looks so good and anyone would be thrilled to have some in their lunchbox, I know I sure would be a happy girl!!

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    1. Thank you Tara! It's some of my favorite flavors. Hope you give it a shot!

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  7. This is my kind of lunch! What lovely memories of your grandparents!

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    1. Thanks Sarah! I miss them so much... but man, what great memories!!! ;-)

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  8. I love butter beans. I never thought to pair them with sausage. This looks amazing.

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    1. Thanks Jennie! Hope you enjoy it ;-)

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  9. What a great story! Sausage and beans? A winning combination!

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    1. Thanks Amy!!! And yes, the ultimate beanie weenies! ;-)

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Thank you for taking the time to comment! It makes me smile :-)