Tag Archives: garlic

When Simple Meets Delicious

There are times after a busy day on the farm that I want to make something healthy yet packed with flavor. If I can get it to the table in 30 minutes, all the better. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s made with my favorite legume, the chickpea or garbanzo. Chickpeas go way beyond hummus, and are excellent in stews, soups, sides and salads, along with grains and pasta. They boast 11 grams of protein in 1 cup, and deliver the most nutrients of all other beans. Loaded with zinc and fiber, they pair well with cuisines from many cultures.

This is a simple stew from Catalonia, Spain loaded with garlic, vegetable broth, spinach, saffron and get this, raisins. In the end, this savory-sweet stew hits on all cylinders. We love it, and I think you will too!

CATALAN SPINACH AND CHICKPEA STEW

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds, ground in a mortar and pestle or food processor
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 6 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 10 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 2 15 ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (homemade if possible)
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a stock pot over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the sliced shallots and the garlic. Saute, stirring constantly, until shallots are translucent about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in the mortar and pestle or food processor, add the saffron threads, parsley, and sea salt. Process until fine. Set aside.
  3. Add the fresh spinach, and stir until wilted, then add the chickpeas, raisins, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock and the almond mixture. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve in shallow bowls.

Serves 4

“Beans, beans, the magical legume. The more you eat, the more you consume.” –A. Yankovic

Let’s Spread Hummus, Not Hate

I’ve been making hummus, the Middle-Eastern chickpea spread for decades. I am very anti commercially processed hummus. One, I dislike the consistency, and two I can make 5-6 times as much for the price of one 8 ounce container. Although I have frequently advocated for using soaked, dried chickpeas, I’ve been working at making a good hummus with canned chickpeas; and I have finally come up with the result I was looking for using a few tricks that made a significant difference. I found it amazing that using these 4 techniques made for a creamy and delicious hummus I was ready to eat and serve to others.

  • Technique #1: warm your chickpeas. I found warming my chickpeas in the microwave for about 2 minutes helped to give me the same incredible consistency I prefer when I cook the chickpeas from scratch. And lets face it there are times that time is of the essence when soaking and cooking them isn’t practical.
  • Technique #2: Save your canned liquid. The starchy liquid from canned chickpeas is called Aquafaba. It is often used by vegans as an egg substitute. Here we will use it to flavor and thin out our processed chickpeas to just the right consistency.
  • Technique #3: Patience grasshopper! Process, process, process! It is extremely important that you process your hummus for as long as it takes, which can be as long as 10 minutes! I find the time can vary quite a bit for unknown reasons. I will sometimes add 2-3 tablespoons of ice water near the end, if the consistency is at all grainy.
  • Technique #4: Taste as you go. I can’t tell you how many times when I have neglected to do this that I end up making adjustments that weren’t necessary. The two primary factors being salt and lemon juice. Once it’s added you can’t take it away.

I make hummus several times a month. I can’t get enough of it, and it’s so versatil. You can add roasted carrots, beets, avocado, or marinated artichokes to it and end up with something completely different. Lately I’ve been slightly obsessed with using it as a replacement for pasta or rice, and turning it into a dinner hummus. I have used ground lamb and topped it with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, olives, green onions and cilantro. I have roasted a sheet pan of veggies like eggplant, zucchini and squash. You name it, and you can create a healthy topping for this classic spread. This week I used cut up boneless chicken thighs, caramelized onions and roasted cauliflower seasoned with my homemade ras el hanout https://twistedbasics.com/2019/03/16/got-the-munchies/ and was totally blown away with the result. This will definitely be on a permanent rotation in this house! Don’t be daunted by the several steps; it still comes together relatively quickly and is well worth the effort!

MIDDLE EASTERN DINNER HUMMUS

FOR THE HUMMUS:

  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained, reserving liquid from one can
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 large garlic cloves

MAKE THE HUMMUS:

  1. Heat your drained chickpeas in a microwave safe bowl for 2 minutes. Throw the garlic down your entry shoot while your food processor is running, processing to chop it. Stop and add chickpeas, tahini, oil, 1/2 of the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, then process until a coarse paste forms, about 45 seconds, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.
  2. Slowly add the chickpea liquid and process until smooth and creamy (up to 10 minutes). Don’t rush this step. If after processing your hummus still looks granular, add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time (up to 3 tablespoons). Taste adding additional lemon juice and/or salt. This will make more than you will need for this recipe, but yay more for later. Place finished hummus in bowl and set aside.

FOR CAULIFLOWER:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut or broken into small flowerettes about 4 cups
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Toss cauliflower with olive oil and ras el hanout. Place on baking sheet in one layer. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until cauliflower is slightly charred around the edges.

FOR CHICKEN & ONIONS:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon ras el hanout
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  1. In a medium bowl, toss chicken with ras el hanout. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. (I love my cast iron skillet for this). Add chicken in an even layer; cook, undisturbed, until the bottom of the chicken is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. You may need to do this in two batches. Turn over chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 4 more minutes; transfer to a medium bowl.
  2. To the same skillet reduce the heat to medium and add the sliced onion, za’atar, and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil; cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until softened, lightly brown and caramelized. Add 1/4 cup water and the raisins to the skillet, the chicken and cauliflower. Stir gently and heat until warmed through. Season with salt to taste.

FOR ASSEMBLY:

On a decorative platter, spread the hummus 1/2-3/4 inch thick to completely cover the bottom of platter. Make a well in the center of the hummus and spoon the chicken, caramelized onions and cauliflower over hummus. Top with toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley. Drizzle with olive oil. Pass pita or pita chips for serve.

Serves 4

“Middle age is about getting super excited about different flavors of hummus!”

The Fungus Among Us!

In the winter there is nothing better than soup, and this soup is soul-filling! There are many approaches to mushroom soup, and they will all give you satisfying results. This approach however, has a secret ingredient that not only thickens it with added protein, but gives it a rich and wonderful rustic feel. That ingredient is chickpea flour. What? That’s right, chickpea flour. Your are free to omit it, but you will end up with a much brothyer soup.

There are several elements to this soup that are equally important; homemade stock, a variety of fresh mushrooms, and making sure that you brown the mushrooms deeply, not just saute them. Each of these elements build on the other, giving you a opulent result you will feel proud to serve your family or guests.

SAVORY MUSHROOM SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh mushrooms, (such as cremini, white mushrooms, shitake, oyster or portabellas), chopped
  • 3/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 30 minutes, then finely chopped, straining steeping water through a fine mesh strainer. Set aside.
  • 4 large shallots, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated on micro planer
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I can’t empathize how important this is)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Pour 1 cup boiling water over porcini mushrooms and let sit for 30 minutes. Remove mushrooms and chop, set aside. Strain soaking water through a fine mesh strainer, set aside.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Stir in half of the shallots and mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10-12 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shallots and mushrooms to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining butter, olive oil, shallots and mushrooms.
  3. Pour all the mushrooms back into the pot, including the porcini’s, stir in the garlic and tomato paste, and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Then stir in the thyme, rosemary, 1 teaspoon of salt, coriander, and paprika and cook for 1 minute more.
  4. Stir in the chickpea flour, and cook stirring for 1 minute. Stir in the stock of your choice, the reserved porcini water, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste and add additional salt if needed. Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika and chopped herbs.

Serves 4-6

“Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art is a mushroom.” –Thomas Carlyle.

Satisfying Soupa!

I think many of us would agree that in the winter, soups and stews are so comforting. There is something about their warmth and aroma that is deeply satisfying. When I’m not eating at the table, I have a particular bowl that fits nicely in the palm of my hand. I love to spoon soup from it while staring out on the landscape outside my writing window. It is then when I feel particularly satisfied on multiple levels.

Root vegetables in particular work well in soup. When you combine these with homemade stock you have something nourishing and healthy to offer your family. Maybe it just feeds our soul. One of my favorites soups that is on constant rotation is Minestrone. It can literally be any combination of vegetables you choose or have on hand. Add some beans and greens and you are all set.

BRICKYARD FARMS MINESTRONE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes, cut in cubes
  • 2 cups carrots sliced on the bias
  • 2 cups zucchini, cubed
  • 2 quarts homemade chicken or vegetable stock; or 2 cartons organic stock
  • 1 (15 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes with juice
  • 1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 4 cups baby spinach OR Swiss chard OR kale, stemmed and chopped
  • Freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, saute onions and garlic in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add carrots, sweet potatoes and zucchini and saute for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add stock, tomatoes with juice and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium-low and simmer until sweet potatoes and carrots are soft, about 25 minutes.
  3. Add cannellini beans and spinach (or whatever green you choose) simmer just until greens wilt.
  4. Ladle into bowls and top with Parmesan or pecorino.

Serves 6-8

“To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup” –Laurie Colwin

The Heat Is On!

As summer becomes fall, there are still many vegetables in abundance at your local farmers markets, particularly peppers! Look for a plethora of these from mild to fiery hot. You owe it to yourself to consider getting in on this incredible bargain. All peppers freeze well with very little effort. I freeze both bell peppers and jalapeños for salsa, stir-fries and chili; but my favorite thing to make is a savory Hatch Green Chili Sauce. Hatch chilies (a type of Anaheim pepper) come in mild, medium or hot varieties. We grow the medium heat. I use this for chicken enchiladas, white chicken chili, and to spoon over eggs.

Roasted Hatch Chili Sauce adds the perfect Mexican flair for any type of grilled meat, such as flank steak or chicken. I simply freeze it in pint or half-pint containers for future use. Double or triple the batch when they show up in abundance; you’ll be glad you did!

HATCH CHILI SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups roasted Hatch chili peppers (remove stems, skin, seeds and membranes), then chop
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups sweet onion, chopped (I use Sierra Bianca’s)
  • 6-8 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Juice of one lime, separated

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. To roast chilies, place them on a preheated gas grill over high heat (or under a broiler). Grill or broil until the skins blister, crack and separate from the flesh. You will need to turn them a few times, depending on their size. Remove the peppers from the heat and place them in a covered glass bowl or inside a ziplock bag to allow them to steam (about 20 minutes). When cool enough to handle, remove skins, stems, seeds and membranes. Set aside until you do this with all the peppers. Then roughly chop.
  2. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat (I use a cast-iron for this). Once pan is hot add your oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the chopped onion. Saute until soft and translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more.
  3. Add flour and stir to coat the onions and garlic in the pan (this is your thickener) about 2 minutes. Add your chopped chilies and combine.
  4. Add chicken stock and half the lime juice; simmer on medium until the sauce starts to thicken, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Add the remaining lime juice and salt. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Let sauce cool for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Place sauce in batches in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth.

Yields: approximately 4 pints

“Live life with a little spice!”

Stocking Up!

During the fall and winter there is nothing I enjoy more than a steaming bowl of soup. Commercial stocks are inexpensive, plentiful and convenient, but they will never replace homemade. I typically make 36 quarts of chicken, and 24 quarts of vegetable stock each season, and freeze it for future use. Not only does the house smell terrific while it simmers, it is the foundation for all sorts of delicious meals that include soups, stews and risotto. I find that vegetable stock in particular, benefits from a little love and attention to the ingredients.

If you roast or brown the vegetables before you assemble the stock, the caramelization improves the flavor profile. Adding dried porcini mushrooms and tomato paste will impart a savory or umami element that deepens the end result. Unlike chicken stock which is simmered up to 24 hours, vegetable stock is simmered no longer than 90 minutes. The addition of herbs and onion skins add flavor and color to the stock.

VEGETABLE STOCK

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped onion (save the skins)
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 3 cups chopped carrot
  • 2 cups chopped parsnip
  • 1 cup chopped fennel bulb
  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed (can leave skins on)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 large handfuls spinach

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Rehydrate dried mushrooms. Place the dried mushrooms in a 4 cup glass Pyrex measuring cup and pour 4 cups boiling water over them. Set aside.
  2. Brown the onions, celery, carrots, parsnips and fennel. Heat the olive oil over high heat in a large stockpot. Add the chopped vegetables and stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt. Cook over high heat for several minutes, stirring only occasionally. Be patient with the browning of the vegetables, as they have a high moisture content. It may take 10-15 minutes or longer to brown them.
  3. Add the garlic and tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes, or until the tomato paste begins to turn a rusty color.
  4. Add the mushrooms and their soaking water, the rosemary, thyme, onion skins, peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley and 4 additional quarts of water. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to low. After 45 minutes add spinach. Continue to simmer for a total of 90 minutes.
  5. Strain the stock with a basket skimmer or slotted spoon, removing all the big pieces of vegetables and mushroom. Discard or compost. Set up a large bowl with a wire mesh strainer in it. Line strainer with a layer of cheesecloth. Using a ladle or 2 cup measuring cup, pour stock through strainer. When the liquid slows down, you may have to change the cheesecloth.
  6. Pour into jars, or 1 quart plastic deli containers and chill or freeze. Make sure you leave 1 1/2 inches of headspace if freezing.

Yields: 4-5 quarts

“The secret to change, is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” –Socrates

Sweet and Spicy!

There are times when we just have to shake it up a bit! We all have our go-to rotations for meal planning, but it is interesting how a different condiment or sauce can really take a side to the next level (thank you Yotam Ottelenghi). I also appreciate a sauce that can go with many different things, from vegetables, to chicken, lamb or fish. This sauce has it all. Even the color contrast of this dish is striking. As I mentioned last week, using the addition of a flavored olive oil is really wonderful, in this case Persian Lime. It pairs nicely with the fresh lime juice. Skip it if you don’t have it. If you have people in your family that don’t like too much heat, the Greek yogurt that accompanies this side will easily tamp it down.

Sweet potatoes are a terrific vegetable for people watching their weight. They are high in vitamin A, they support digestive and heart health, and they are rich in dietary fiber, keeping you full longer. They also stabilize your blood-sugar, fuel your brain, and since they are loaded with beta-carotene they are terrific for your eyes. So what’s not to like?

SWEET POTATOES WITH YOGURT & CILANTRO-CHILI SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil divided (Persian Lime if available)
  • 1/2 tablespoon local honey
  • Juice of 2 limes, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 2 green chilies, seeded and chopped (I use jalapenos)
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or grated
  • 1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, honey, juice from 1 lime, salt and pepper to taste, and potato wedges. Toss to coat. Spread in a even layer on baking sheet, bake until tender and lightly browned in spots, about 45-55- minutes. Sprinkle with additional salt to taste.
  3. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse to combine 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, the cilantro, chilies, garlic, almonds, juice from remaining lime, vinegar and a large pinch of salt, until it forms a chunky puree. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  4. Arrange sweet potatoes on a platter; spoon sauce in dollops over the potatoes, dollop with yogurt, drizzle with some olive oil, and serve with additional sauce and yogurt on the side.

Serve 4-6

“Our very survival depends on us staying awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant, and to face the challenge of change.” –Martin Luther King

Edible Culture

As the wind throws our wind chimes against the house, and stirs up whitecaps on the lake; I sit beside our wood burner feeling quite cozy. I was thinking about our kitchen fest last holiday weekend; I absolutely love egg dishes and had made Shashuka on Sunday. The dish’s name means ‘all mixed up’ and in a sense it is. Its name dates back to the Ottoman Empire and is a favorite in the Middle East, Israel and North Africa. It’s hardy, affordable and delicious with warm spices of cumin and smoked paprika, along with tomatoes, sweet peppers, chickpeas, onion, garlic and of course eggs. There are several similar egg dishes in the world that have some of these ingredients along with their own cultural flair. I have always thought that any dish combining tomatoes and eggs is an automatic winner.

Shashuka has a comforting nature and healthy ingredients. There are many variations that allow for levels of spiciness, along with vegetables, herbs and meat. You can add ground lamb or sausage before sautéing the onion and pepper, and garnish it with feta; or you can make it more Tex-Mex by omitting the paprika and adding chili powder, black beans or corn, then finishing it with chopped fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. It’s just plain flexible, so let your imagination soar. These days, practically any dish in which eggs are cooked in a sauce may be called Shashuka. In my last cookbook I have a recipe for Green Shashuka, made with spinach, Swiss chard, arugula or kale; along with onions, garlic, herbs, cream and feta.

SHASHUKA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 sweet peppers, I like one red and one yellow, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15-oz cans fire roasted tomatoes (or 6-8 fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1 15-oz can rinsed chickpeas
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 2 fresh eggs per person
  • 1/2 cup fresh micro-greens, chopped fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish
Let’s start with onions and garlic
Then add beautiful peppers and tomatoes

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large non-stick or cast iron skillet, heat your oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until soft and translucent; add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add peppers and fresh tomatoes if using; cook until soft, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add fire-roasted tomatoes if using, then cumin, smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes), black pepper, chickpeas and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Simmer until thickened, about 5-8 more minutes.
  3. Stir in baby spinach and fold gently until spinach wilts. Make indentations in the sauce and gently crack the eggs into the wells. Season eggs with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet, and cook until the egg whites are just set, but yolks are still soft, about 7-10 minutes.
  4. Carry skillet to table and serve hot, sprinkled with garnish of your choice.

Serves: 2-6

Eggs poaching in sauce
Beautiful Shashuka ready to eat!!

“Food is love!!”

Basic Comfort

As we dive into our pantry’s and larder’s, there are few things more affordable than beans. I always have assorted cans on hand for dinners that come together quickly. But when it comes to a texture and flavor difference, I can’t recommend enough, using dried beans. My goodness, could anything be more pantry stable and down right cheap? As many of us are home more than usual due to the pandemic, this is the perfect time to simmer up a pot of these amazing nuggets.

There are four dried beans that I always have on hand, both for their versatility and flavor: cannellini, chickpeas, dark red kidneys, and black. You can create beautiful soups, stews, salads and braises. It is not difficult to cook dried beans; it’s really a matter of time. Although I own an Instant Pot, I prefer to cook beans on the stove. I find that electric pressure cookers give you a lack of control. The beans tend to split and rupture their skins when cooked in a pressure cooker. The beauty of controlling the simmer and cooking time is they will be just right for your application. The only thing you really need to plan is soaking them overnight.

A pot on cannellini’s ready for the stove.

Sometimes you will cook beans to add to your recipe; other times they are part of the recipe and are cooked with your meat. There are a few nuances that I suggest when cooking beans. The most important one is don’t salt your beans while they are cooking. Salt makes the skins tough and doesn’t allow the bean to become soft. Once your beans are cooked to the texture required for your recipe, then feel free to add salt. Beans require salt! I also like to add a few cloves of garlic and a bay leaf, but this is an option, not a requirement. There is such a thing as the pot liqueur or the bean cooking liquid. When I cooked beans for this stew, I dished up a cup of the beans, pot liqueur and topped it with homemade basil oil. I literally swooned!

The following stew is a great way to use cooked cannellini beans. You can use either bulk Italian sausage or link. If you use links, you will simply remove their casings before cooking. The spinach adds a nice texture and color. If you don’t have spinach, you can use Swiss chard or ribboned kale or leave it out completely. The stew will still taste great!!

ITALIAN STEW WITH CANNELLINI AND SAUSAGE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups dried cannellini beans
  • 3 cloves garlic and 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 4 ounces pancetta, finally cubed
  • 1 pound bulk/or 5 links, Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced 1/4 inch
  • 2 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

FOR THE BEANS:

  1. Soak your 2 cups of beans overnight. Cover them with about 4 inches of water.
  2. Drain your beans and place in a Dutch oven of enamel covered cast iron pot and cover with water about 2 inches. Add garlic and bay leaf if using. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer. Cover and cook 45-90 minutes until soft. Once soft, add 1 teaspoon Kosher salt and simmer 15 minutes more. Drain and separate beans in half. You will puree one half to thicken stew.
Italian sausage and pancetta

FOR STEW:

  1. If using links, take the sausage meat out of its casings and crumble it into a large soup pot, along with the pancetta.
  2. Cook over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes, until thoroughly cooked and slightly browned. Meanwhile, prep the other ingredients.
  3. Transfer the sausage and pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels, leaving 2 tablespoons of fat in the pot (spoon any excess out).
  4. Add the onion to the pot and sauté for 3-5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  5. Add the beans, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, and rosemary. Stir thoroughly and dissolve any browned bits in the bottom of pot. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. With an immersion blender, (I use a quart Mason jar) puree the remaining half of cooked beans until smooth. Add them back to the pot, along with the sausage and pancetta. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove stew from heat and stir in the baby spinach. The spinach will wilt in about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6

Ready to serve
Savory Italian bean and sausage stew.

” A stew sustains you against the hungers of the world.”

Notch It Up!

I’m sure many of you have made something for your families that needed something extra, but you’re not quite sure what it is. Well, I may have the answer for you: Roasted Sweet Pepper and Tomato Sauce. This sauce has it all; it’s sweet, yet piquant, savory and adaptable to so many dishes. The secret is in the roasting. Roasting as we know deepens the flavor of all vegetables and this is no exception. Roasting is so helpful that you can make this sauce even with greenhouse peppers and tomatoes. For me, if I’m going to go through the process, why not make enough to put up? This sauce can be canned in a water bath for 15 minutes, or frozen in half-pint jars. If you roast one sheet pan of peppers, and one sheet pan of tomatoes and garlic it will yield about 5-6 half pints.

But the real deal is just how many uses you will have for it! I’m fond of plating a sauce under an entre like lamb meatballs (next week’s recipe) or cauliflower cake. You can spoon it over a piece of toast or an English muffin and top it with a poached egg. Spoon it over scrambled eggs, or hard boiled eggs or on a sandwich instead of mayo. You are only limited by your imagination!

Sweet peppers ready to be roasted
Halved tomatoes and garlic ready for roasting.

ROASTED SWEET PEPPER AND TOMATO SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 sweet peppers, your choice of color, but include one red, halved vertically and seeded
  • 2 tomatoes, cored and cut in half horizontally
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 head of garlic, tops trimmed just enough to expose cloves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
Roasted peppers
Roasted tomatoes

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Line a large sheet pan with aluminum foil (if you are preparing a batch of quantity, line two baking sheets; using one for peppers and one for tomatoes). Place peppers, tomatoes and garlic on sheet pan.
  3. Baste vegetables with olive oil, then add your salt and pepper. Place in oven and set your timer for 20 minutes. Rotate trays from top to bottom and roast an additional 20 minutes. Remove the tomatoes and roast the peppers for approximately 20 minutes more. You want the peppers charred in various places. If doing a single batch place everything on one sheet pan and roast for 35 minutes.
  4. Let cool slightly, then with a paring knife, carefully pull off the skins of tomatoes, then repeat with the peppers. Discard skins. Squeeze the garlic out of its papery skins.
  5. In a blender or food processor, place your tomatoes, peppers, garlic, red wine vinegar, maple syrup and some additional salt and pepper. Blend or pulse for about 1 minute. Add an additional 3 tablespoons of olive oil and process again until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning adding more vinegar, salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Pour into half pint jars and can or freeze.

Yield: 1 half pint

Roasted red pepper and tomato sauce just blended.

“An ounce of sauce covers a multitude of sins.” —Anthony Bourdain

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