Made this on the fly last night ... was really tasty (and easy)! Sautéed some red pepper, onion and garlic, and about 1/2 of a chopped tomato. Then added some sliced Bilinski’s Organic Feta & Spinach Chicken sausage and about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce and cooked it on medium heat for about 10 min. I served it over some couscous and salad greens with some chopped mango, and cranberry-walnut rolls on the side. Lots of different flavor and texture combinations but they all worked. A healthy, quick, AND yummy weeknight dinner!
A pot of hearty beans hit the spot last week when the frigid temps were hovering in the teens. I soaked some pinto beans overnight, then drained and rinsed them. I then sautéed some garlic and onion, added them to the beans and then put them in my slow cooker to simmer on high along with a can of Ro-tel tomatoes and about a 1/3 cup of Whole Foods Roasted Chipolte Salsa and a couple of tablespoons brown sugar and a splash of molasses for sweetness. I added salt, coriander and cumin for seasoning and upped the spice level a little with some chili powder and red pepper. Then I sat back and enjoyed the smell as they bubbled away. After about 4 hours I cut them back to low and let them cook a couple hours longer as I chauffeured the kids to after-school activities. They were perfect for dinner served alongside some turkey tacos (my son's favorite). Even better for lunch the next day as shown in my photo above!
I get daily Food & Wine e-mail recipe updates and had saved this one for a chilly winter day when I would enjoy the simmering smell and comfort of a nice hot bowl of soup. This one contributed by Mario Batali fit the bill! Farro, in case you are wondering, is a toothsome whole grain with a kind of nutty flavor (according to About.com it is "the original grain from which all others derive, and fed the Mediterranean and Near Eastern populations for thousands of years") - see Farro: Grain of the Legions.
As I usually do for soup, I put my slow cooker to work. I did have to saute the vegs first, but not a big deal - after that initial step I just put the rest in the crock pot - first on high for a couple hours to cook the farro, then I added the beans, cut it back to low, and then finally put it on the warm setting. I also made some swaps, such as cannelloni beans for the pintos, and a red sweet potato for the carrots. I also did not use the peas (didn't think it needed them), and instead of the tomato paste I used a bit of leftover tomato sauce which worked just as well. I also threw in a few cloves of garlic (you can never go wrong with garlic in a soup!). It was very good and hearty, although I did have to add a bit more salt seasoning for my tastes. It was actually better the next day after the flavors blended a little - I also threw in some smoked sun-dried tomatoes as I re-heated it and stirred in a bit of chutney before serving which gave a it a nice kick (I'll often stir a bit of salsa into soup for the same effect). Other suggestions would be to top it with a sprinkle of parmesan or romano cheese, or even some crumbled bacon for you meat lovers!
Here's the recipe from Food & Wine:
Mixed Vegetable and Farro Soup
CONTRIBUTED BY MARIO BATALI
· ACTIVE: 50 MIN
· TOTAL TIME: 2 HRS 45 MIN
· SERVINGS: 6
Eataly's vegetable counter specializes in vegan dishes—specifically, vegan dishes that people might not suspect are vegan. One is this thick, hearty soup made with a colorful mix of carrots, peas, leek and onion. Mario Batalialso adds borlotti beans and farro, which make the soup hearty enough to be a main course. The crunchy grissinion the side aren't vegan; they're sweetened with honey.
1. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2. 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
3. 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4. 1 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
5. 1 cup farro or wheat berries
6. 1 tablespoon tomato paste
7. 2 quarts water
8. One 15-ounce can borlotti or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
9. 2 large carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
10. 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
11. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12. 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil
13. Juniper Grissini
1. In an enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Add the celery, onion and leek and cook over moderately high heat, stirring a few times, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the farro and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the grains are coated and shiny, 30 seconds. Add 1 quart of the water and the beans and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Add the carrots and the remaining 1 quart of water. Cover and cook over low heat until the carrots are tender, 30 minutes. Add the peas, cover and cook until tender, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, top with the basil and serve with Juniper Grissini.
Ripe, fruity Italian Sylvaner.
· FROM PAIRING OF THE DAY: OCTOBER 2010, MARIO BATALI'S PASSPORT TO EATALY
· PUBLISHED OCTOBER 2010
I was so happy to see this month's Cooking Light technique column focusing on mastering the omelet. How perfect that the column featured a mushroom frittata recipe - I had been hankering to make a frittata, and just so happened to have some mushrooms on hand. It was delicious paired with some roasted potatoes (sweet and russet) and steamed asparagus. The arugula topping was a nice touch.
My son has been getting more interested in eggs - a great protein food that is also inexpensive, versatile and quick to make. We talked about making omelets for dinner, especially since I got a new crepe pan for Christmas that is perfect for the Classic French Omelet recipe also featured in the column. So easy and fun to make - he loved helping me with it.
Classic French Omelet
So I got two nice pieces of swordfish from Whole Foods - usually I would grill them but since it is winter, I thought I would see how I could incorporate them into some kind of stew. By Googling swordfish and stew, I found Overnight-Marinated Swordfish Stew, published in The Washington Post in 2007. Perfect! And lucky for me I had most of the ingredients on hand - as usual, I just made some swaps for the ones I didn't. I loved the idea of marinating the fish overnight. Instead of cooking the stew on the stove I decided to try my slow cooker on the low setting, since this seemed like it would be similar to the slow simmer stove-top method. This worked pretty well, although next time I think I would cook it for a little shorter time as the fish was not as juicy as it could have been, which I thought might happen since fish requires such a short cooking time. Live and learn! But, it was still very tasty and the flavors of the stew "sauce" were delicious. Like my husband always says, you can't go wrong with olives! I added some capers, a handful of golden raisins. In my version I switched rosemary for oregano (just to see what that would taste like), and two smallish plump tomatoes, loosely chopped, for cherry tomatoes. Also, I decided to serve it over more penne pasta (mainly for my kids) instead of making the bruschetta, although I definitely want to try this combination another time. Here's the recipe I used as a guide:
Overnight-Marinated Swordfish Stew
The Washington Post, June 20, 2007
Marinating for 24 to 48 hours intensifies the flavors of this colorful stew; slow simmering on the stovetop ensures that the fish stays succulent.
Domenica Marchetti likes to use a single piece of swordfish for this recipe to keep it as moist as possible during its slow cooking. But you can use 2 pieces if you like.
For the stew
For the stew: Place the swordfish in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot with a lid; it should fit comfortably but snugly. Season the fish generously on all sides with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the fish with the onion, tomatoes, garlic, olives, bay leaves and oregano. Drizzle the olive oil over everything; cover and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.
To cook the fish, remove the pot from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Place the pot on the stovetop over low heat and cook, covered, without stirring, for about 1 hour or slightly longer, until the fish is just cooked through. Check by inserting a knife into the fish and looking at the interior flesh.
Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for about 30 minutes. It should be warm but not piping hot at serving time. Discard the bay leaves.
For the bruschetta: Position the top oven rack 4 to 5 inches from the broiler element. Preheat the broiler. Have ready a rimmed baking sheet.
In a small bowl, combine the oil and garlic and let it sit for 10 minutes. Arrange the bread slices on the baking sheet and brush the garlic oil on one side of each slice. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Broil the bread slices, oiled side up, for 1 to 2 minutes or until the slices are slightly charred around the edges and golden in the middle.
To serve, place a slice of bruschetta in the bottom of individual shallow rimmed soup bowls. Use a large serving spoon to scoop chunks of fish into each bowl. Spoon the stew over each serving.
Recipe Source:Adapted from her "The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy" (Chronicle Books, 2006).
So much of our history can be learned through food!