One of my most memorable meals ever was a rustic lunch at a roadside bistro in Provence, France -- a green salad with poached egg and lardons, and a main course of sausage with white beans; so simple, yet so delicious. --- Here is my version of the main dish. You could use any type of sausage, and just about any kind of bean, too. So, feel free to experiment with the ingredients and make the recipe your own.
Note: The following recipe makes enough beans for 4-6 people. I was just cooking for two the night I photographed this, so I only used two sausages, but you can add more sausages for more people.
Ideally, I would use French garlic sausage and cannellini beans for the recipe. However, when I made it I couldn't find cannellini beans or garlic sausage, so I used Great Northern beans and mild Italian sausage and it came out great. This dish is also very good with puy French lentils.
1/2 lb. dried cannellini, Great Northern, Navy or other of your favorite beans
Handful of fresh sage leaves (4-5)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
4-5 black peppercorns
4 Tbs. olive oil
Sausage links: sweet Italian, garlic, andouille, etc. -- whatever your favorite is, 1 link per serving
1 shallot, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 cup tomato puree
1/4 tsp. red-chili pepper flakes
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Rinse the beans under cold water, place into a large pot, cover with plenty of water and allow to soak for four hours.
To cook the beans, drain and return the beans to the pot. Add water to cover the beans by at least an inch, along with 2 Tbs. olive oil, the sage leaves, 2 cloves crushed garlic and the black peppercorns.
Gently bring the beans to a simmer and cook for one hour.
Check the beans for tenderness. If necessary, continue cooking until they are al dente -- slightly firm, but not crunchy. When the beans are finished cooking, add salt to taste. Don't add salt during cooking since it can make the beans tough.
Drain the beans and set aside. You can also pick out the crushed garlic and sage leaves and discard them, if you wish.
Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in a large skillet and lightly brown the sausage links over medium heat.
Remove the sausages from the skillet and set aside. Add the 2 minced garlic cloves and minced shallot to the hot skillet, cooking until soft -- three to four minutes.
Add the tomato puree to the skillet, along with with chili flakes and sausages and cook until the sausage is cooked through, about five minutes.
Add the cooked beans to the pan with the sausage and stir gently to mix well. Try not to break up the beans.
Heat until the beans are warmed through and serve with a side salad, crusty bread, or accompanying dish such as roasted broccoli.