Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuscan Bean Casserole

I am so excited about this new recipe--I made it up all by myself, and it turned out so good that two out of three picky eaters loved it! Okay, wait, I have to confess that my mother (fabulous cook) helped me get started with the idea on this one, based on some random ingredients I had on hand that I wanted to use up.

This casserole turned out to have similar flavor and characteristics of two of my favorite soups: Tuscan Bean Soup and Zuppa Toscana (from Olive Garden). If I were to double it, I think I would use two different kinds of beans (probably white and red), but one can was enough for the small size I did. If you try it, let me know what you think and if you come up with any improvements!

Tuscan Bean Casserole

1/2 pound ground sausage (more or less; reduced fat would be fine)
1/4 C chopped onion
1-2 cloves garlic
1 C chopped carrots
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained (I used great northern)
1 C chopped fresh spinach
1-2 C frozen hash brown potatoes (southern style--the little cubes)
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp rosemary leaves
1/2 C milk
1/2 C water
1/2 tsp chicken bouillon

Crumble sausage and cook until done in frying pan on medium heat. Add onions and garlic during last few minutes of cooking time. While sausage cooks, combine carrots, beans, potatoes, and spinach in 8x8 casserole dish. When sausage is cooked, carefully remove it from drippings and add it to casserole dish. Pour drippings into a heat-proof cup and measure 2 Tbsp back into frying pan. Stir in flour, then crush rosemary leaves and add. Cook flour mixture over medium heat until smooth and bubbly. Slowly stir in milk, water, and bouillon. Stir constantly until mixture boils for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour into casserole dish. Stir all ingredients together until combined. Cover and bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes, or until hot and done-looking.

Serve with crusty bread and a green salad!

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