By Salongo Wendland

Alrighty, folks. BEANIE WEENIES.

Not the kind from the can. Dirty little secret: I’ve never had those. As an adult I conjured up this approximation because I love the NAME so much. Who doesn’t want to eat BEANIE WEENIES. This dish is delicious, hearty, and somehow also healthy and easy. My kid clamors for it constantly. I try to save it for days when I am totally out of groceries yet have zero desire to go to the store, so I tend to keep most of the ingredients on hand. Pantry dinner, FTW.

This recipe is also super tweak-able: Leave out the tomatoes, use turkey sausage, mix up the beans, whatever you want. Use TWICE as much kielbasa! It’s YOUR dinner! Also, double-bonus recipe overtime: You can add a quart of chicken stock and a quart of water (before the greens) to make this into soup if you so wish. This recipe is the hardest-working star in showbiz.

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You will need:

  • 1 lb. kielbasa or similar sausage, sliced into coins
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • half a yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T dried herbs, crushed in your palm
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes OR 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 T tomato paste (OPTIONAL)
  • 1 T chicken bouillon paste (or a cube mixed with a little water)
  • 1-3 C white wine OR 1-3 C chicken stock
  • 3 cans beans (I used butter, cannelini, and pinto beans, but you can also use black eyed peas, kidney beans, black beans, whatever floats your bean-boat)
  • 1 bunch kale, collard greens, or spinach
  • 1 baguette, sliced, for serving

Serves: 4-6

First, you need to throw the kielbasa coins into the pan around medium-high until they get some color. I use this moment to chop my veggies. I generally have the mirepoix (fancy French word for chopped carrots, onion, and celery) frozen in zippos, because I am chronically lazy except for BRIEF BURSTS of productivity, wherein I chop and freeze things so Future Me can reap the benefits.

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Anyway, brown the coins, and when they’re done, toss them into a bowl and throw the mirepoix (this fancy word is YOURS now) in for a few minutes. If your sausage didn’t release enough fat, you may need to add a splash of olive oil.

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Cook until the onions are vaguely translucent. Add a touch of salt, then the garlic. Let it cook for a minute, until you can smell it. Add your tomato paste, chicken bouillon, tomatoes, and about a cup of wine (or stock). Maybe the rest of the glass you’ve been drinking. Let’s be honest, you are not cooking beans for COMPANY. You COULD, but these are for you and your kids, amirite? Let the tomatoes burst or get stewy (it should take a couple minutes).


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While you wait, open your cans of beans. You do not need dried beans for this. Dried beans are honestly SO MUCH MORE work. This is not that fussy. It is BEANIE WEENIES, people.

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Once things are stewy, add in whatever herbs/spices you want (I did a tablespoon of thyme and rosemary plus a half teaspoon of red pepper flakes), the beans, and the kielbasa and turn the heat up a bit. Add another 1-2 cups of wine or stock, depending on how saucy you want the beans. I recommend a bit more than you want in the end product so you can reduce it a bit. I didn’t add quite enough, and my food critics told me they wished it had more sauce. It shouldn’t take too long, maybe 5-10 minutes, but the flavors both intensify AND mellow when they reduce. Don’t ask me how; it is magic.

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While this is going on, you can roughly chop your greens, clean up your kitchen, and foist the bread-slicing onto someone else. Seriously, slicing baguettes is the WORST THING EVER. Make someone else do it; you are cooking ALL THE FOOD. When your beans are at the consistency you want, turn down the heat, add the greens on top, and cover the pot.

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It will take a few moments to start to get glisteny and bright and limpish. That means it’s ready. Give it another good stir and taste for salt. It should now look MAGNIFICENT. Like this except with more sauce. Mine did end up kinda dry; I probably needed another cup of liquid.

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Dish it up! I like to top it with a shaving of fresh Parmesan, some black pepper, and a couple red pepper flakes, plus bread for dipping.

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BEANIE WEENIES. It’s what’s for dinner.


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