Pork Sausage & Navy Bean Stew

It's April Fool's Day and the only joke about today is the weather.

Last year this time I was unpacking from a month in Costa Rica and Panama where the weather was equally temperamental but the nice days were beautiful and, well, I was beach side in South America so there's not much to complain about. Life was in transition, a big transition at the time and I had to have a few long conversations with myself. If you had asked me then if I thought I'd be where I am now I would not have predicted this for myself.

This year has been a lot different for me. There's been way less travel than I'm used to, but that's because I want to be travelling less. That's equal parts confusing and freeing. I still call myself a "traveler" even though I'm not on the road anymore. It's a similar feeling for those who are artists or writers but experiencing creative blocks. I still am that travelling girl with a big open heart for exploring but that exploration has gone internal now. I've shifted my focus to my personal growth and my career growth. It's still a solo adventure, it's only a bit more stationary. 

Too often we hear that people who travel are doing it to 'find themselves'. I wasn't lost then, except for a few times in Vietnam and that one time in Cambodia when the bus left me at the rest stop, but it did set a new version of me in motion. I learned about what I was capable of and learned what I wanted and did not want in my life. I wasn't being incredibly introspective because I was travelling solo that internal deep dive started when I had planted my flag. It was the stillness after travel that told me it was time to know myself and put myself first, intentionally. With all of the flux and transition in between I had to relearn a lot about myself.

Reaching the turn of Spring, the beginning of the second quarter of year feels like a great time to re-evaluate what comes next and how I choose to stay on track. Without constantly travelling I am able to cook steadily, to work on my crafts and become who I've always been intended to be.

This cozy and light stew is perfect for the transition. This will be perfect for our wishy-washy east coast weather, one day a sunny Spring day and the next winter cold. This plays on both days. It's warming and flavorful but light enough not to weigh you down. Easily double this for family and pack it full of bright green baby kale. This is lifted by the addition of Parmesan at the end but if you happen to have a rind of Parmesan add it to the stew when you add the tomatoes and thank yourself later.

If you're a garlic lover add one more clove in the final twenty minutes for your garlic fix.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb pork sausage
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
3 cloves minced garlic
2 15oz cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken stock
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 cups baby kale
salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Finish with shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan. Remove pork sausage from casings and add to hot oil breaking apart with the back of a spoon. Brown the pork about 10-15 minutes and remove to a bowl. In the oil add herbs and garlic and stir for one minute until fragrant.

Add navy beans and chicken stock. Bring to a gentle simmer then lower the heat and cover for 20 minutes. Add the whole tomatoes and half of the liquid. Roughly chop, crush by hand or smash the tomatoes with a spoon. Add crushed red pepper flakes and return the browned sausage to the pot, cover for 20 minutes. Add the baby kale to the pot allowing the heat to wilt it gently while stirring. about 2-3 minutes until softened. Remove bay leaf and serve immediately with Parmesan shavings.

Serve as a light stew or over bulgar or farro.

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