Kale, Bacon and Cannellini Bean Ragu
When we bought our home, we knew Kevin would be deploying for the better part of the coming year. There is a suite in our home, but the thought of renting to tenants while trying to wrangle a German Shepherd, toddler and a newborn by myself, seemed a daunting task. Babies, toddlers and large dogs simply do not understand the concept of quiet. So, I talked my older (chef) brother into moving in. He couldn’t be angry at the noise when he knows it is his niece and nephew, right?
It turns out, having my big brother move in has been a wonderful blessing for all. My sanity over the deployment was kept in check by his morning coffee visits. As well, watching his relationships flourish with each of my children warms my heart to no end. My daughter hears the back door open and she squeals in delight knowing her Uncle has come home from work — they share a very special bond.
At night, after putting the kids to bed, I would often smell mouth-watering aromas coming from downstairs. Sometimes I would creep down and give him puppy dog eyes until he shared. He is a fabulous cook and in case you were wondering – this recipe is his. Last spring, I would find him making this at least once a week – the savory smell of onions, garlic and bacon would lure me downstairs. My brother became tired of sharing, so I am now the proud owner of his recipe! This is a fresh, healthy meal that can be made in as little as 30 minutes, start to finish.
1 onion, diced small
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large bunches of kale, remove thick stems and roughly chop (any variety)
1 can, 14 ounce cannellini beans (two cans if you love beans)
1 pint or 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red pepper, julienned
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4-6 pieces good quality bacon – I always buy our bacon from The Village Butcher, it is thick, not too fatty and doesn’t disappear in the pan.
You can pre-cook the bacon to add in at the end or chop and cook in a deep sauce pan for 3-4 minutes before adding your diced onion.
If you plan to pre-cook the bacon to add in at the end, begin with adding olive oil to the pan on medium heat and start with the diced onions, cook until soft. About 5-7 minutes.
Add garlic, stirring 1-2 minutes and season with salt and pepper.
Add roughly chopped kale and julienne red pepper. Stir frequently and turn down heat to medium-low.
Once kale has turned bright green (4-6 minutes), turn heat to low and add cooked bacon, drained cannellini beans, and tomatoes. Stir and cover for 1-2 minutes, just until tomatoes and beans are warm. You do not want to overcook them as they will turn to mush and fall apart.
Adjust seasoning to taste and serve as is, with crusty baguette or over spaghetti with a hint of olive oil and shaved Parmesan cheese.
For me, this meal became a comfort while Kevin was away. Once the kids were asleep, I would treat myself to a glass of wine and a bowl of ragu on the couch to watch a well deserved movie. Perfection.