March 16, 2013


Italian bean stew

I have bought quite a few cookbooks in the last few years (mostly since I started this blog) but I realised the other day that I hardly ever buy magazines any more.

Magazines are so expensive these days and for little more than the price of just one you can pick up a really good cookbook from the supermarket or a discount bookshop – for example, I got my copy of Bake by Rachel Allen, for £4.89 in Tesco last year and I recently swooped on a copy of Annie Bell’s fabulous Baking Bible for £7.99 in The Works.

When I buy a magazine which will have cost nearly four quid, I might read half the content, cut out and save a recipe or two, then it goes into the recycling bin, whereas a beautiful cookbook will give years of use and pleasure and is therefore much better value for money.

Italian bean stew3

This is how I talked myself into not feeling guilty about buying yet another couple of cookbooks a few months ago !!  They were by Gino D’Acampo, in an offer of two books for £10.

In this one is a recipe for something called “sausage, bean and olive casserole” that is absolutely scrummy. You can see the original recipe here.  The first time I made it I used some turkey sausages from Sainsbury’s, just because I happened to have them in the fridge. They were quite herby and very tasty so I used them again and the recipe has become a favourite of the house, which we now refer to as “Italian sausage and bean stew”.

Italian bean stew1Italian bean stew2

I do like recipes that are adaptable, especially if it puts a really tasty meal on the table in less than an hour.  This stew is hearty, filling and ticks all the boxes for a hot mid-week meal when the weather’s miserable and you arrive home from work cold and hungry.

Napolina Chopped Tomatoes with Peppers & Chilli in Tomato Juice (400g)

I have also made a variation using pork sausages and a tin of Napolina chopped tomatoes with pepper and chilli.  This was equally delicious and had just a slight hint of warmth from the chilli, which I like.

Italian bean stew, chilli version

The chilli version, which looks similar (just a little redder) but tastes different!

So hats off to Mr D’Acampo and I shall be exploring the content of his books some more !!

As luck would have it, this recipe fits in nicely with this month’s Alphabakes Challenge, which is to bake something sweet or savoury with the letter “I” in it.  I thought last month’s challenge was hard enough but there are possibly even fewer recipes in the “I” section of the indexes of my cookbooks, so I am hoping that my adaptation of the original recipe fits the bill.

The challenge is hosted alternately by Ros (otherwise known as Baking Addict) of The more than occasional baker and this month by Caroline of Caroline Makes.  You can read more about this month’s challenge here.

Italian sausage and bean stew (adapted from the recipe by Gino D’Acampo)


6 turkey or pork sausages

3-4 tblsp olive oil for frying

2 onions

2 carrots

1 small pack (250g) of lardons or smoked bacon bits

2 tbslp plain flour

2 small glasses of red wine

a 400g tin of cannellini beans, drained

a good squirt of tomato paste

400ml beef stock

1 tblsp sliced or whole pitted black olives

6 chestnut mushrooms, quartered

3 bay leaves

salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180° fan / gas mk 6.  Heat the oil in flameproof casserole or deep frying pan.

Peel and roughly chop the onions and carrots and fry for 2 minutes until just beginning to brown. 

Cut each sausage into thirds and add to the pan with the lardons or bacon and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the flour and stir for another minute.

Add the wine and cook on fairly high heat for 2 minutes to burn off the alcohol then add all the remaining ingredients, stir well and season.

bring to the boil then transfer to the oven, with the lid on (or tip from your frying pan into a suitable casserole dish) and cook for 30 minutes until the sausages are cooked and the sauce has thickened.

Serves 3-4 people, or two people with vegetables and leftovers !

For the chilli variation:

Omit the tomato paste, stock and bay leaves and instead add a 400g can of Napolina chopped tomatoes with pepper and chilli, and a splash of water.


  1. I agree with you on the cost of magazines and shops like The Works make it so affordable to buy books. My only problem is where to store all my lovely books - they are taking over. This stew looks perfect for a cold, miserable day.

  2. Sausage stew is just so perfect for this kind of weather isn't it? Yours looks sublime! Packed with flavour.

  3. Replies
    1. Elizabeth, I'm sure if you used low fat sausages and dry fried them, it would be fine and the beans would be good for him. You could omit the flour as the beans themselves thicken the stew up and instead of stock you could put in more wine and it would be ok for both of you.
      That's assuming you can get low fat, gluten free sausages in France, which might be a tall order !!

  4. That sounds wonderfully tasty, Jean. Does it resemble cassoulet at all?

    1. Perpetua, I think it does, a bit. It's certainly tasty and just as filling.

  5. I'm definitely up for this dish on a cold night. There's a local producer of turkey sausages and I can see some of their product fitting in very well to this recipe. I totally agree about magazines. The only time I buy them nowadays is when they're in bargain bundles. French supermarkets are especially good at bargain bundles, although I don't get across the Channel much these days.

  6. I know what you mean about cookery magazines! This stew looks really hearty and perfect for winter - or spring as the weather is so cold at the moment! Thanks for entering Alphabakes.