beans

Three Bean Pasta Fagioli

Nothing is better than a hot bowl of Pasta "Fazool" on a cold winter day! Everyone knows February is award show month, and this is my "Award Show Meal."  I like to make a big pot of this and then cuddle up in sweats on the couch with my boyfriend and friends in front of the television. We sit and watch all of our favorite celebrities in awe, commenting on their wacky outfits and their butchered acceptance speeches...and the good ones too. 

Ingredients-

  1. 4 celery stalks diced small
  2. 1 cup carrot diced small
  3. 1 medium/large onion diced small (an onion about the size of a large orange)
  4. 4 pieces of bacon diced small
  5. 2 bay leaves
  6. 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  7. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  8. 2 Ounces Kale -Chiffonade
  9. 3 small garlic cloves minced
  10. 2 Sprigs of fresh rosemary chopped up finely
  11. 2 cups canned diced tomatoes with some of the juice 
  12. 1/3 cup dried brown or green lentils
  13. 14 oz canned Cannellini white beans
  14. 15.5 oz can of Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)
  15. 14oz chickpeas 
  16. 6 cups Chicken stock/broth
  17. 1 cup white wine
  18. 1 Cup Small Pasta (I prefer Ditalini or small shells)
  19. Salt and Pepper to Taste
  20. Fresh Parmegiano Reggiano Cheese


Steps-

  1. Heat a large ceramic pot (like a Le Creuset if you have it) on medium-low heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat renders, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon and set aside (you will add it back in). Add the onion, carrot, celery, red pepper flakes and bay leaves and increase the heat to medium; cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
  2. Add the wine and cook until it has reduced slightly. Add the bacon back to the pot along with the broth, beans, lentils, chickpeas, diced tomatoes and rosemary. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are just tender, 15-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer 1 cup of the bean mixture and a little liquid to a blender or food processor. Hold a kitchen towel over the opening to prevent splatters as the liquid is very hot. Purée until smooth and add back into the pot.  This will help to thicken the soup slightly.
  4. Add the dried pasta to the pot and stir to incorporate. Turn the heat up to a gentle boil and cook until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, anywhere from 8-12 minutes depending on the type of pasta you used. The soup will thicken a bit by the time the pasta is cooked. Discard the bay leaves.
  5. Ladle the soup into bowls. Drizzle each portion with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil and grate a good amount of Parmegiano Reggiano on top.

I love to serve this with some homemade Focaccia bread. Check out Tyler Florence's recipe! I just use his bread recipe without his toppings and add lots of fresh rosemary and sea salt to mine  before baking and it compliments the soup perfectly. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/fabulous-focaccia-recipe.html

Summer Lovin Salad- Fava Beans, Sugar Snap Peas, Watercress, Mint Vinaigrette & Manchego Cheese

 

We are in the final days of Spring and sailing right into summertime which to me means sunshine, the beach, relaxing in the park and...the BEST fruits and vegetables are in season!  This salad is the perfect addition to your summer BBQ or dinner party menu.  It is light, refreshing, crisp and very unique in flavor and appearance.  It is unique in that it doesn't have your typical ingredients like Romaine, Arugula or Iceberg.  It uses three things that are in season right now and they are Fava Beans, Watercress and Sugar Snap Peas.  Fava beans are not a common ingredient for most households but they should be! They are beautiful to look at and have a creamy, but crisp texture and almost a cheesy, earthy flavor that goes perfect with my mint vinaigrette and the Manchego cheese. 

Ingredients-

1  1/2 Cups Shucked Fava Beans

3/4 Lb Sugar Snap Peas Washed Throughly

1/2 Cup Watercress Leaves (remove the large tough stems)

1/3 Cup Pearl Onions (frozen and thawed)- You can use fresh as well but make sure you cook them through.

White Sugar (just a dash or two)

Manchego Cheese (Using a potato peeler or mandolin shave long thin strips of cheese and set aside)

Dressing-

1/4-1/3 Cup Fresh Mint Leaves

Juice of half a Lemon

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Canola Oil

1/2 Teaspoon Honey (you can always add more if the dressing is too bitter)

1 Heaping Tablespoon of Dijon Mustard

1 Small Clove of Garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste

Steps-

First prepare the dressing by blending the Mint, Dijon, Lemon Juice, Garlic, Honey, a dash of salt and pepper and a drizzle of both olive oil and canola oil (using a blend of oils prevents the dressing from being too bitter) in a food processor or blender.   Add more oil a little at a time until it reaches the consistency of a vinaigrette or lite dressing  Add more salt and pepper if needed. Seal in a container and set aside in the fridge to let the flavors meld together.

The Salad-

Remove and discard the stem and natural "string" from each Sugar Snap Pea Pod. Set aside. 

Fill a large bowl of water with ice and water and set aside. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and then drop the Sugar Snap Peas in the water.  Boil them in the water for 2 minutes only and then using a slotted spoon remove them from the water and place them in the bowl of ice water to shock them.  This helps them retain their color and crunch and cooks them ever so slightly.  Once they are cooled in the ice water remove them and dry them off on paper towels (set aside).

Do the same thing with the shucked Fava Beans but for about 3-4 minutes or until tender. Drain and shock in the ice water then remove the outer skin gently.  Try not to break up the beans you want them to hold their beautiful shape.

In a small frying pan, place the peeled pearl onions and sprinkle them with a little white sugar.  Cook on medium heat rolling them around and coating them with the sugar until the onions caramelize/brown and they are cooked and heated through.  Set aside.  

Toss the Fava Beans together in a large bowl with the Snap Peas, pearl onions and the cleaned Watercress.

Dress the Salad with a little vinaigrette at a time, making sure you coat each pea and bean evenly but do not over dress.  

Spoon the salad onto a serving dish and then take a few shavings of the Manchego Cheese and lay it on top as shown in my photo.  You can also just shave the cheese and toss it with the salad!  

Enjoy!