Cooking On A Budget: Sausage and Swiss Chard Casserole

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sausage and Swiss Chard Casserole

I am just like you. The family says what are we having for dinner? When I worked full time (way back when) and my kids were little and still in school, I got stuck in a rut and often cooked the same meals over and over. Why? Number one was it was easy. Number two was finicky, picky eaters and those that were not daring to try something new.
That's why I am so glad for now. Now I can spend time pouring through the weekly circular and let my creative side percolate new ideas. In essence, I am creating recipes based on my love of cooking, my love of being in my kitchen and thank the good Lord I have grown children and a husband who are far less picky and much more willing to try new things.
Cooking on a budget can be daunting. Not all of us share the same economic status. Everyone's food budgets are different. Families can be small with few mouths to feed or there are a lot of hungry mouths to feed. Maybe it's a one parent household with one income and maybe it's a two parent household but despite the two incomes it still is a challenge to budget money for food.
What I gathered from my spice cabinet and pantry items for this dish may in total be around $1.00-$2.00 tops. The rest of the components for this dish cost:
  1. Store made Italian sausage on sale at $2.59 per pound had 10 links in it. The net cost was .58 cents each.
  2. The 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes - $1.50 on sale.
  3. Cannelini beans, 15.5 oz. on sale - $.99
  4. A bunch of rainbow Swiss chard - $2.99
  5. Total money spent: $8.96
For us, I split up the package of sausage and already used some for another meal. With the cost listed divide it by the number in your family and you can see that it's not a really expensive dish at all.
We like hot Italian sausage and sweet as well. You can make this dish with either. If you do not like spicy, use sweet sausage and eliminate the crushed red pepper flakes as well. Substitute black pepper in place of crushed red pepper flakes for flavor. I decided while making this I would leave out the crushed red pepper flakes as the hot Italian sausage had a lot of crushed red pepper in it.
Feeds 6-8 people a nice hearty portion. It is a flavorful and satisfying supper for any time of the year. An added bonus is it is a one pot meal that makes for easy clean up. You can make this a vegetarian dinner by leaving out the sausage altogether.
  • 5 or 6 hot Italian sausage - casings removed
  • 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 15.5 oz. can cannelini beans - rinsed and drained
  • 1 bunch rainbow Swiss chard - rough chop (Remove 1 inch of the bottom stem; chop the upper portion of the stem as it has lots of flavor.)
  • 2 large garlic cloves - finely diced
  • 1/3 cup finely diced onions
  • 1 tbsp. fresh basil - minced or 1 tsp. dried
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes - optional (for more heat)
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • melted butter
  • salt to taste
  1. Over moderate heat add just a drizzle of olive oil to a dutch oven or deep skillet. Let this come up to a nice heat and add in the sausage. Quickly stir, breaking the sausage up as you go and brown a touch and remove from the heat. Put the partially done sausage in a bowl.
  2. To the pan, and over medium low heat, add in the diced onions and cook until translucent. Then add in the garlic and stir and cook for about 1 minute.
  3. Next add in the Swiss chard and crushed red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Stir and partially wilt the chard over medium low heat.
  4. While the chard is wilting, add the panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and basil to a bowl and crush with your hands. This is for the casserole topping.
  5. Add the sausage, diced tomatoes and cannellini beans in with the chard. Stir well and then remove from the heat.
  6. If you did not start out with a dutch oven or oven proof skillet, add all of the mixture to a glass baking dish.
  7. Drizzle some butter on top of the crumbs prior to baking.

Prior to the crumb topping.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350degrees, uncovered for about 30-45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the mixture is bubbly and some of the liquid has had a chance to evaporate.

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