Even though October keeps throwing random 22 degree summer sun our way, autumn is definitely upon us – the turning of the leaves, the dark mornings, the better dramas on telly…there’s a turning towards slowing down, taking stock and making plans.

Sunday was a particularly drizzly October day, so as such I decided to spend a little more time in the kitchen and actually enjoy the process of putting dinner together for my loved ones rather than a stressy hectic mess.

I’m reading a book at the minute called A Monks Guide to a Clean House and Mind (Shoukei Matsumoto – Penguin) which is a crash course in Monk-Living. He lists out in detail how they keep the temple, their belongings, and in turn their minds tidy, and the processes they go through to achieve this as part of their devotion.

There’s sweet simplicity in his description of the care, patience and routine of cleaning the temple floor, taking pleasure in the task at hand, just being in the moment and dedicating time to something seemingly unimportant but actually quite special. Affording time for simple pleasures.

So I decided on Sunday with each dice of an onion, and stir of the big pot, I would enjoy it – be there and present, and fill the experience with care and love. And it might just have made the dish a little more tasty. Or maybe that was just my imagination.

INGREDIENTS FOR 4
2 x red onions
4 x cloves of garlic
Olive oil
1 x tspn bouillon
1 x tbsp smoked paprika
2 x Tim’s chopped tomatoes
2 x tins butter beans (and water)
6 x veggie sausages
40g flat leaf parsley
40g basil

TO SERVE
200g washed Kale
Crusty sourdough bread
Parmesan cheese or alternative

METHOD
Start off by getting some olive oil hot in a deep pan and add your chopped garlic and onions to sauté for a few minutes, and as they start to soften add in the paprika and cook for a further minute. This is super important as this will cook the flavour through the whole dish.

In a separate frying pan, add a splash of olive oil and add your sausages. I’ve gone for Linda McCartneys’ from frozen, but any will do. At this stage you want to brown all the way round and this will save them from being a sloppy mess later on.

Back to the big pan. Add the butter beans and their water, plus the chopped tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Turn on the oven at this juncture to 200c. At this point add the bouillon to the pan and stir through, then cut the cooked sausages to bite sized pieces and add too. Turn down to a low simmer and stick a lid on.

Chuck the washed kale into a roasting tin and toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Pop in the oven. Keep an eye on this – it’ll need tossing frequently but should only take 15 minutes overall. You want the edges crispy, but it’s green-ness still to shine through.

Keep stirring the pot and add boiling water if it’s too thick. If you’re having it, pop your bread in the even to warm through – there’s nothing homelier than warm bread and proper butter. Once the beans are soft and just starting to come away from their shells, roughly rip and throw in your herbs and stir. I’ve gone for basil and parsley.

And you’re ready to serve. I had some Parmesan in the fridge so added a sprinkling.

Now sit around the table and enjoy. Give yourself time to savour. And get someone else to do the washing up. Enough love for one day.