Posts tagged ‘minestrone’

November 28, 2012

Time for winter. A lesson in minestrone seasons.

We miss our farm box vegetables so much. I bought some groceries at Nesters and made a giant pot of minestrone. My soup tasted like it had been sitting under fluorescent lights for a week.

Italian Food Forever writes:
I believe to make a really great minestrone you need to pay attention to the season and utilize the specific vegetables each season has to offer. In the spring I like to add fresh peas, lava beans, baby artichokes, or even diced asparagus such as in my Minestrone Verde. As summer approaches, I add zucchini, summer squash, baby spinach, diced green beans, and cherry tomatoes into my minestrone pot, and often add rice and serve the soup at room temperature as I do in my Summer Minestrone. In the fall, cubes of pumpkin, and rich, chopped greens such as chard, kale, or chicory celebrate the seasonal change to cooler temperature, and during the winter, potatoes, canned tomatoes, canned beans, and winter squash are often added and the soup can be then be served very warm as in my Winter Minestrone.

A minestrone is supposed to be cooked according to the season. My fresh summery green beans had no place in a fall soup. Not just because they were not “fresh from the farm” or local even, and aside from the fact they tasted quite like a bag of jolly green giant frozen french cuts. Even our bodies know its cold outside. My stomach wants to go into hibernation with stews and roasting and baking. Simple ingredients. A soup with maybe 3 things in it instead of the summer abundance of 15.

I’m lucky enough to live on the west coast where all this is in season:
What's in Season- November

read more »

August 18, 2012

Farm box for AUGUST 11(or, how a $10 chicken and a $25 farm box fed us this week)

This week your box contains Collards, ruby streaks, salad mix, zucchini, yellow bush beans, carrots, garlic, corn, +fresh farm eggs
Here is what we ate:
1)Grilled corn (and hotdogs, it was a sunny sunday! how do you resist!)
2)Mac and cheese & collard greens
3)Roast chicken, yellow beans, salad
which led to making chicken stock for:
5)Lidia’s Pasta and Zucchini
6)Biba’s minestrone

Last week’s farm box contained some great onions. In the marketing manager’s notes, she mentioned they are best for grilling, so we finally started up the BBQ last week. I tried to skewer the onions to grill them but they just split apart so I opted for grilling them on a piece of foil with a bit of olive oil & salt + pepper and they turned into lovely lightly caramelized onions quite better than the ones I’ve made on the stove top. and they went right on to a bison burger.
to read a whole discussion on grilling onions- see: this post on chowhound

This week we had fresh farm corn and started up the bbq again.

I watched “A Hot Dog Program” on PBS and have been craving a really really good hot dog ever since:
From a Fourth of July hot dog-eating contest at Coney Island to a gourmet reindeer-dog vendor at the start of the Iditarod sled dog race, A HOT DOG PROGRAM, produced by WQED Pittsburgh, visits some of the country’s coolest hot dog places. During the one-hour documentary, we find out what makes a Chicago-style dog, go inside a giant hot-dog-shaped building, stop at some late-night stands and see how hot dogs are made. (excerpt from: A Hot Dog Program)

…they even had a hotdog with collard greens! I went with roasted corn and an all dressed dog with sauerkraut. but the collards stuck in my head because that hot dog comes with mac & cheese and a side of collards, so meal #2 became mac & cheese and collards.

I’ve never cooked collard greens before so I went with the simple: blanch the greens, and saute in olive oil and garlic over med-low heat for 10 min. I read that adding apple cider to your greens boosts your absorption of calcium in the greens so I added about a tsp towards the end. (see: http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/the-health-benefits-of-vinegar2.htm). I think collards have the texture of kale and the sweet taste of chard. perfect. I also secretly hoped the collards would offset the evil-but-good mac and cheese.

I made Chicken Stock with the roasted chicken carcass, and added chicken feet this time. The stock gets very gelatinous after sitting in the fridge overnight which at first to be honest really freaked me out because I assumed it was all fat but after doing some research, gelatinous stock is actually a good thing- Apparently chicken feet are the secret to “jewish penicillin” (see Sally Fallon’s “Nourishing Traditions” 2nd ed. 2001, NewTrends Publishing).

Another PBS show we watch religiously is Lidia’s Italy. So when we had zucchini and fresh farm eggs in our box I had to try her Maccheroni with Zucchini. The egg yolk in the sauce makes this a sort of zucchini carbonara. so a little healthier? right? I tried.

Notes on the recipe: I used my stock instead of the hot water as per her suggestion. There is a surprising amount of stock- 2 cups! When I was cooking the zucchini I really started to panic that I was about to make a pasta soup. BUT, always trust Lidia, once I put the pasta in the sauce, the noodles sucked up all the sauce. If you use a really nice olive oil at the end to drizzle over the pasta & sauce the noodles do something amazing and seem to swell up and fill up with more flavour. This will NOT work with cheap olive oil and will in fact make the pasta taste greasy. We’ve been using our Nudo olive oil and tried out some Partanna olive oil this time with really really delicious results.

Sorry Lidia- I did not have time for homemade pasta. I read that Maccheroni is also called “guitar string pasta” so figuring spaghetti would be too small a string I went with Bucatini, which has a hole running down the middle. and I think it went very well.

Next- an adapted version of Biba’s Minestroni with Beans and Rice, Milan-Style from her book: “Biba’s Italy, Favorite Recipes from the Splendid Cities”, by Biba Caggiano, Artisan Press, 2006.

which uses up the last of my farm vegetables. This can feed you for days.
A note on Biba: I highly recommend this cookbook. Much like Lidia, and even the Barefoot Contessa the recipes do not steer you wrong. and- once you master a technique or recipe, or as with Lidia’s pasta and zucchini recipe, learn that yes the pasta can suck up all that sauce.. even more adaptations are open to you.

See you next week.

August 18, 2012

An Adapted Recipe: Biba’s minestrone, milan-style

Biba writes that this summer soup can be made with any seasonal vegetables you have on hand and can be prepared with water, chicken, vegetable or even a meat broth . Here are the veggies she uses. Use whatever amounts you have on hand.
1/4 C olive oil and a bit of butter
1 onion, chopped
garlic clove
parsley
4 large tomatoes, chopped or a can of tomatoes.
potatoes, diced
Pancetta (I omitted this and used a bit of smoked paprika, a trick I learned from andrea potter at Rooted Nutrition, which adds a smokey hint)
carrots
zucchini
string beans, chopped into 2″ pieces
1/2 a head of cabbage, shredded or roughly chopped
leeks
Arborio rice (you can adapt this and use another pasta, or none at all)
Broth
Parmigiano rind (save your rinds for soups, like this one).
herbs to your liking (ie. chili flakes, thyme)

Saute the onions and pancetta until onions are lightly translucent and pancetta is starting to turn a bit golden. add garlic and chili flakes, and any dried herbs to your liking. Stir and add in your vegetables, and stir to coat your veggies with the base flavours of the onions herbs and pancetta.
Add in your broth, amounts vary depending and amount of vegetables, but I added about 1 1/2 litres of broth and 1/2 litre of water since I ran out of broth. The general rule is to have enough stock to cover the vegetables by at least an inch. At this point I popped in the cheese rind.
Bring to a boil then reduce and let simmer uncovered for 45 min.
If you want to add arborio rice or pasta, stir it in (for pasta I would cook it in a separate pot then add to the soup, otherwise the broth tends to absorb too much starch). Once your pasta is al dente, take the soup off heat and let sit.
Serve! this is very nice with a bit of parmesan shredded on top.

Adapted from “Minestroni with Beans and Rice Milan-Style” from Biba’s Italy. Biba Caggiano. Artisan, NY. 2006.