Here is a recipe for pasta with beans and spicy Calabrian sausages. (I brought back a couple of kilos in my luggage, but they can be replaced with any Italian sausages, or indeed any good quality coarse British sausages.) The end result should be a stew served with pasta, rather than pasta served with a sauce. (The picture at the top shows the stew before the pasta has been added.)
500 g of haricot beans
1 head of celery
500 g of carrots
6 cloves of garlic
1 kg of spicy Calabrian sausages
- Soak the haricot beans overnight. The next day, chop the celery, and fry gently in a large saucepan for a few minutes until it starts to soften. Add the whole, unpeeled garlic cloves, fry for another minute or so, then add the strained beans and enough stock or water to cover. Bring to a boil, skim off any scum which floats to the surface, reduce the heat to minimum and simmer until the beans are almost done but still have a little bite. (Probably about an hour.)
- While the beans are cooking, peel and chop the carrots, and slice the sausages into thick slices. Add the carrots and the sausage to the cooked beans, add a little stock if necessary, and some salt. Simmer until the sausage is cooked. (About 20 minutes.)
- Cook your pasta, drain, toss with a little olive oil, and add it to the stew.
Calabrian food is characterised by the generous use of chilli. It’s used both fresh and dry, and in lots of preparations. Two of my favourites are a salty sauce made with fresh chillies and salted anchovies, and ‘nduja’, a type of soft very spicy sausage which you can spread on bread or melt into a pasta sauce.