Saturday, April 06, 2013

Slow Cooker Italian Sausage and White Beans with Sage (from Ilva and the Silver Spoon)

Italian Sausage and White Beans with Sage
Italian Sausage and White Beans with Sage gets extra flavorful when the cooked beans, sausage, and sage are simmered in the slow cooker with tomatoes and ground fennel.

(Updated with new photos and better instructions, April 2013.)  Back in 2005 when I first started blogging, one of the first bloggers I "met" online was Ilva from Tuscany, who writes the beautiful blog called Lucillian Delights.  This recipe from 2007 was inspired by the White Beans and Sausages with Tomatoes and Sage that Ilva posted, and since she's in San Francisco this weekend speaking at the IACP Conference, I thought it would be a fun time to update this recipe with better photos.  I was sad that the timing of the conference came right after my move so I couldn't make the budget stretch to go meet Ilva in person, but I was definitely thinking about her as I enjoyed this delicious Italian Sausage and White Beans with Sage!

In this recipe, the white beans are pre-cooked and then get simmered in the slow cooker with browned sausage, sage, tomatoes, and ground fennel.  You could follow directions for How to Cook Dried Beans in a Slow Cooker if you wanted (and then drain the beans before proceeding with the second part of the recipe), but I followed the original recipe and cooked the beans on the stove.  Starting with soaked, dried beans and cooking them from scratch, and browning the sausage well before you simmer it with the beans are both important for best flavor here.  I used turkey Italian Sausage to keep this South Beach Diet friendly, but if you don't care about that you could try to find some of the wonderful authentic Italian sausage that Ilva used.

Soak the beans overnight in cold water, then drain the next day and add fresh water for cooking.

Cook the beans in water with celery, garlic, and three leaves of sage until they are tender.  Cooking time for dried beans will vary depending on the freshness of the beans, but I cooked mine about one hour and 15 minutes.  (Remember they will continue to cook a little in the slow cooker.)

When the beans are nearly done, brown the sausage well.

Drain the beans, discarding the sage and celery but chopping the large garlic pieces.  Add to the slow cooker with the sausage, 10 sage leaves, ground fennel, and canned tomatoes.  Cook on high for 2-3 hours.

The finished dish won't win any beauty contests, but you won't care when you taste how wonderfully flavorful this is.

And just for fun, here is the original photo of this dish from back in 2007, not bad for those days even if it was a little dark!

Slow Cooker Italian Sausage and White Beans with Sage
(Makes about 6 servings. Recipe adapted from Luculian Delights and The Silver Spoon.)

1 pkg. (5 links) Turkey Italian Sausage
1 lb. dried white beans, soaked overnight or at least 8 hours
2 stalks celery, cut into pieces
3-4 large cloves garlic
3 sage leaves plus 10 more for Crockpot
1/2 tsp. ground fennel (optional, but good)
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water (rinse out tomato can and deglaze frying pan)

In large soup pot, put soaked beans, celery, garlic, and three sage leaves. Add enough water to cover beans by a few inches and cook at low simmer until beans are starting to soften, about one hour and 15 minutes.  (Remember they will cook a little more in the slow cooker, so they shouldn't be "falling apart" tender at this point.

While beans are cooking, brown the sausage well in a frying pan (or you can roast them in the oven if you prefer.)  Let cool enough to handle and cut each sausage into diagonal pieces.  (Browning the sausage adds a lot of flavor, so I usually brown the cut ends as well after they're firm enough to cut.)

Drain beans, keeping garlic and discarding celery and sage. Chop garlic pieces. Add beans, chopped garlic, diagonally cut sausage pieces, 10 sage leaves,  canned tomatoes with juice and ground fennel (if using) to Crockpot. Rinse out tomato can with 1/2 cup water, then deglaze frying pan with that water, scraping off browned drippings, and pour into crockpot. Cook on high 2-3 hours, or until flavors are well blended. Serve hot.

South Beach Suggestions:
It's important to use lower-fat Turkey Italian Sausage in this dish if you're following the South Beach Diet. Beans are considered a "good carb" on South Beach, but since this is mostly beans, limit this dish to a small serving for Phase One. This would taste great with something like Cucumber, Onion, and Parsley Salad or Broccoli and Radish Salad with Gorgonzola.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you. 

More Tasty Ideas for Turkey Italian Sausage:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Bow Tie Pasta and Turkey Italian Sausage Skillet Meal ~ Coupon Clipping Cook
Stuffed Peppers with Turkey Italian Sausage, Ground Beef, and Mozzarella ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Turkey Sausage and Mushroom Ragu ~ Sassy Radish
Italian Sausage and Bean Soup with Chard ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Hearty Sausage, Kale, and Butternut Squash Soup ~ The Lemon Bowl
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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More to Chew On:


  1. Wow Ilva's looked great and so does yours! I love the turkey sausage.
    Well, no Aleppo pepper to be found in Dallas so I'll have to order from Penzeys, that will be a first for me. No Aleppo but Sue & I sure did find a wonderful new market that we have to return to.

  2. i always get the sausage and then sit and wonder what to do with it beyond cutting it and sauteing it. will surely try ur way next.

  3. Kalyn,

    I am so exicited you can leave comments on my blog now. I love these white beans, I am sure I will be tryng some variation of this.

    They have recently opened a Penzey's near us. I must stop by.


  4. Yum....I make a variation on this about once a week, I like it especially with some sauteed greens, chard or kale.

  5. o la la! My 15 minutes of South Beach Diet fame has arrived! I can tell you that I like it. And that I really wish I could try those turkey sausages. I have been thinking about making my own sausages for a while now so...

  6. Oh I bet this was sure looks it!

  7. It's very nice to hear that you guys think this looks good. I really liked it.

    Tanna, sorry to hear you can't find Aleppo pepper, but Penzeys rocks; you will love it. I'm going to order some stuff today.

    Mallugirl, hope you like it.

    Rinku, I learned to right click on comment and open in a new window, so if you know anyone else having trouble tell them to do that.

    Erin, must try with kale. BTW, I just got some glasses just about like yours.

    Ilva, you were already famous!! Wish I could send you some turkey sausage. Guess you must come here and try them.

    Naudee, try it. Just cook on the stove if you don't have a crockpot.

  8. Forgot to say, Rinku I am so JEALOUS that you have a Penzeys by your house!

  9. Ilva made me cook this Tuscan bean dish last week. Unfortunately I didn't have any fresh sage so I used dried one instead. Big mistake! I fished the dried leaves out as soon as I realized they were turning this beautiful meal bitter.
    After this experience I am very grateful for your hint about the frozen sage, never heard of or thought of before.
    Many thanks and good cookings,

  10. I read your blog about the Aleppo pepper. You are right, it has a very distinct flavour, I love it.
    There are many Turkish markets here in Vienna, so it's easy to have a supply on hand. If any of your readers cannot find it elsewhere, I could try to mail some, as a little thank you for all the good recipes you're leading me to.

  11. Merisi, I've had good luck with the frozen sage. You're sweet to offer about the Aleppo pepper. I hope most people can get it at Penzeys; I think they ship all over the world. (And no, they aren't give me any free spices, I just love them.)

  12. Kalyn,
    What size can of tomatoes? Seems like regular 15-ish ounce may be too little liquid, did you use the bigger can?

  13. Anonymous, I used the regular sized can, 14.5 oz. Ilva said she likes a lot of tomatoes, and I think you could certainly use a bigger can if you wanted, especially if you were cooking it on top of the stove. In the Crockpot, it creates more liquid, but this wasn't overly liquidy.

  14. I made it Saturday. Used 2 cans of tomatoes. It was delicious!
    BTW, I love your site and your recipes. And, I love being able to print them easily now!!!

  15. Ruthie, so glad you liked it. I agree, print the new way is so much better. (I'm just lucky to have Rand and Bradley to help me and Zoe to consult with!)

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  17. WoW! I want to say that my husband and I have found a new way and only way to cook sausages. The convection oven worked amazingly! We were a touch wary to start but were extremely happy with the outcome. I'm sure the recipe is wonderful too however I made so many changes I can't really comment :) Thanks!

  18. Liz, glad you liked the sausage, and I'm always happy when people just use my recipe as a starting point. I think adapting a recipe to your own taste and pantry is what real cooking is all about!

  19. Hi Kalyn - I'm worried about my choice of turkey sausage. I bought the Jenny-O sweet Italian sausage...but should I have purchased the hot version? What do you typically use?

    Making this tomorrow and cannot wait! -Katie

  20. I usually buy the Hot Italian Sausage, but I like them both. You can add a few pinches of red pepper flakes if you want to add some heat.

  21. I think it looks beautiful! What a lovely, rustic dish and so great that you finish it all off in the slow cooker.

  22. Very excited to try this recipe this week! I'm lucky to have a Penzey's near me in Boulder, so I'm going to give that Aleppo pepper a try. Also, I have an idea on how to stretch your budget - how about writing a cookbook with your great recipes? I'll buy a copy, probably more than one :)

  23. Thanks, TW. I love this type of dish for comfort food.

    Amy, you are too kind. I don't really have much interest in writing a cookbook for a couple of reasons. I work pretty hard on the blog, so I can't imagine adding more work into my life. And the cookbook market is so saturated with bloggers writing books, that most of the people who write them don't really make much money. I would not say no if I got an offer from The South Beach Diet people though!

  24. I am experimenting with this recipe using different types of sausage - they need to be robust for the dish, butthere are so many types to choose from you can re-invent this yummy meal over and over. Thanks

  25. Hello - I have never had good luck with dry white beans. They seem to have this funky shell that comes off after I soak them. How many canned beans would you suggest for this recipe. Thanks!

  26. One pound beans makes about 7 cups and a can of beans is 1.5 cups.


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