2 lbs. Camellia Brand large limas (butterbeans)
3 quarts tap water for soaking beans
3 cans Swanson's Low Sodium chicken broth
3 broth cans filled with water
2 lbs. smoked or Polish sausage
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups seasoning veggies
3 whole bay leaves
3/4 cup fresh basil, shredded
2 tsp. Frank Davis Sicilian Seasoning
Salt and coarse ground black pepper to taste
1 lb. orzo, cooked al dente
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 rounds of pull-apart garlic bread
Tomato, red onion, avocado salad
3/4 cup Italian Olive Salad Mix

First and foremost, place the dried beans into a 5-quart stainless steel stock pot. Then completely cover them with water, place the lid on the pot, and let them soak at room temperature for several hours (or in the refrigerator overnight). This is a pre-requisite for making a good batch of Sicilian butterbeans! The soaking process puffs the beans and softens the hulls to make them super-tender.

In the meantime, take a second 5-quart stainless steel stock pot and add to it three cans of low-sodium chicken broth and three cans of water. Then bring the mixture to a full boil. While the broth is coming up to heat, slice the sausages lengthwise into single serving pieces. Then drop them into the boiling broth, reduce the fire to low, and simmer them until they puff up and become fork tender (which should take about 10 minutes).

Note: Do not discard the sausage poaching broth! This will serve as the liquid in which you cook the butterbeans. It can be made in advance and refrigerated, along with the sausage links, until ready for use.

Now, when you're ready to cook the beans, pour out all of the soaking water; but immediately replace it with the sausage poaching broth that you saved. This is also the time when you add to the bean pot the pre-mixed seasoning vegetables (onions, celery, bell pepper, green onions, garlic, and parsley), the olive oil, the bay leaves, the fresh basil, the Sicilian seasoning, and the salt and black pepper. Of course, you might want to hold off on adding any extra salt until you taste the seasoned sausage broth-there may be enough residual salt from the sausage in the broth to suit your individual tastes.

At this point, bring the pot of beans to a boil; but then instantly reduce them to low. Then add the sausage links to the pot, stir the ingredients thoroughly once again, put the lid on the pot, and let the pot simmer for about an hour or so (or until the butterbeans are tender and creamy). When you're ready to eat, spoon a little of the cooked orzo into a soup bowl and then ladle a generous helping of the butterbeans over the top.

All that's left is to crown the bowl with a link of sausage, sprinkle on a liberal helping of Parmesan cheese, and serve with a hearty piece of pull-apart garlic bread and a crisp tomato, purple onion, and avocado salad topped with olive dressing.As I said at the top of the page. . .Mama Mia!


Chef's Notes:

1. If you'd prefer to mix the orzo and the beans together in the same pot and serve the dish as a single item, fold in about half the amount of orzo to beans to get the right consistency and texture. Ideally, the mix should be made just prior to serving.

2. The 'seasoning veggies' is the prepackaged mixture of chopped onions, celery, bell pepper, parsley, and green onions that you find in the plastic cartons in the produce section of your supermarket.

3. A variety of smoked sausages may be used when making this recipe. Simply select the flavor of your choice and prepare them as instructed in the directions above.

4. Pull-apart garlic bread is a loaf of round bread found at many supermarket deli counters. Ask the bakery staff for it if you don't see it displayed. If you can't find it where you shop, however, a loaf of garlic bread (homemade or frozen) will suffice nicely.