Italian Sausages with Tomato & Cannellini Stew

It seems appropriate that I’m currently snugly settled in a café with coffee and my laptop while the weather rages outside. Appropriate because my recipe today is another winter warmer.

Yesterday was the winter solstice in New Zealand and therefore the perfect time to share this recipe that I am extremely fond of. Not great timing for my fellow Northern Hemisphere bloggers (a heat wave has been sweeping Europe!) who won’t be putting winter warmers on their cooking agenda at the moment. But it’s great fun to store recipes away and then revisit them when the seasons change.

This dish has many things going for it – simple to make and packed with flavour being among them. And I’ve always loved a sausage. They are so comforting and versatile. But the key as with most things when it comes to food and cooking is quality. You really do need to start with a good quality sausage.

I’m particularly fond of Italian sausages and reliably find them at my local gourmet supermarket. With a mixture of beef and pork and flavoured with fennel they are absolutely delicious. Even raw they look beautiful.


If I’m in the mood for spaghetti and meatballs but don’t have time to make my own I like to use these sausages. It takes seconds to remove the skins and break them up into little meatballs.

But this is another way I love to serve them – with a rich tomato and cannellini stew, the fennel seeds in the stew echoing the fennel in the sausages. And because I adore fennel I like to also roast fresh fennel to go with. This is optional of course but gives a further delicious dimension to the dish.

Fennel is another ingredient that is so versatile – raw and crunchy in salads or added to casseroles and stews or, indeed, simply roasted or braised and served in its own right as a vegetable side. The fronds can be used as a herb. Admittedly I love anything with that fabulous aniseed flavour but fennel is at the height of its season in New Zealand and the perfect vegetable to compliment this dish.

But whether or not you decide to go with the fennel, I do suggest you get in a loaf of ciabatta and pop a few slices under the grill to serve with. Mopping up the juices of the stew with a crisp slice of ciabatta is truly wonderful.

So let me help you chase away those winter blues with a bit of comfort cooking. And if you’re sweltering in summer heat, tuck this recipe away for the next few months.


Italian Sausages with Tomato and Cannellini Stew

Serves 2-3



  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 Italian sausages
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 125ml dry white wine
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 60ml water
  • 125g cannellini beans (from a drained can of beans)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Small handful flat-leaf parsley leaves

To serve:

  • Parsley leaves
  • Slices of grilled ciabatta
  • Roasted fennel (optional)



  1. Heat a shallow casserole dish so it’s hot enough to brown the sausages.
  2. Add the olive oil and place the sausages in a single layer. Fry just until you have a good colour and then turn. It’s not always easy to get a sausage evenly browned on all sides but do your best. They are going to finish cooking in the stew so you don’t need to be too pedantic about it.
  3. Once the sausages are browned, remove to a plate.
  4. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another couple of minutes. Then add the oregano and fennel seeds and stir well through the onion and garlic, letting them fry off for a minute or so.
  5. Add the white wine and let it bubble to cook off the alcohol and reduce. Then add the tomatoes, water and cannellini beans. Season and then give the stew a good stir to ensure everything is incorporated.
  6. Return the sausages to the pan and lay them in the stew. Reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for around 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes or so to thicken the stew and ensure the sausages are cooked through (you can always slice one through to check).
  8. Have a taste of the stew to check the seasoning.
  9. As a final flourish, add some parsley leaves. Don’t chop the parsley – you want the leaves to be a leafy, herby addition to the stew.


Dish onto plates and serve with the roasted fennel if using, slices of grilled ciabatta and fresh parsley leaves. The reason I say serves 2-3 is because it does depend on the size of the sausages. I find one sausage is generally enough for me because they are rather robust. My husband likes two. But as with most recipes, you can double, triple, to feed however many you want.


And if you did want to try these sausages turned into gorgeous meatballs with spaghetti:

Spaghetti with Italian Sausage and Tomato Cream Sauce



  1. Great! Sausage and beans it’s always a great pairing 🙂 in Italy we have also some other recipes in which also pork rinds are added in the sauce 🙂 these recipes make me think always to Bud Spencer and Terence Hill 🙂
    Another great recipe is sausage with broccoli rabe, we call it “salsiccia e friarielli”, that’s typical of Naples area.

    Liked by 1 person

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