Tag Archives: cannellini beans

Dinner in a Box, or Not and Italian Sausage and Cannellini Bean Stew

My goodness but time flies…we are into the double digits of March! There’s been a good amount of stuff going on in the kitchen, but there’s been a lot going on in life so time to sit right down and write has been limited. so here I am to share the highlights of the last few weeks.

Another generous birthday gift from my kids was a three dinner box from Blue Apron. This is one of the increasing number of sites that will send you all the ingredients needed to create home cooked meals. This is totally outside my wheelhouse, but it was a lot of fun to give it a whirl. It was fun to have a virtual mise en place, in place.IMG_1383The Spicy Shrimp Pasta that was the result was pretty tasty, too. IMG_1391

IMG_1415We also enjoyed a Pub Burger on a Pretzel Roll that featured an IMG_1487awesome Cheddar Cheese Sauce and Oven Fried Sweet Potatoes. I added some Honey Mustard Cole Slaw to balance things out.                                       The final dinner was a Trinidadian Curried Chicken with Coconut Grits and Sautéed Collard Greens. By this time, I was I was ready to take a few liberties. I left the chicken thighs whole and cooked them on the grill. I only used a little of the herb mix that was included because I didn’t care for the taste. The grits were heavenly and the collard greens were the perfect side dish. Services like this have a place in many kitchens; great for busy couples that still want to have a home cooked meal.  Being Mama D, I don’t always enjoy being told what to do,but in spite of that, I’m glad I got to try out this way of cooking. In between my Blue Apron Adventures, I was creating some dishes of my own. Here’s one that was particularly enjoyable….

IMG_1420We’re slowly creeping into spring, but cold snaps are still popping up, so something hearty and warm is often a welcome supper. IMG_1417That’s how this Italian Sausage and Cannellini Stew came to the table. The cast of characters predominately came from cleaning out the refrigerator. Small amounts of veggies that couldn’t stand alone were combined with Turkey Italian IMG_1439Sausage and Cannellini Beans. I sliced what seemed to be a ridiculous amount of garlic, which turned out to be just the right amount. Chicken stock IMG_1435and fire roasted tomatoes created the liquid that was fortified with the wine left from the previous night’s dinner (yes, once in a while we don’t finish the bottle). I dubbed this a “stew” mainly because the liquid was less than what I would use in a soup. While stews usually simmer for an hour or more, this pot of goodness only took about 30 minutes Things came together quite nicely resulting in a stew that tasted like it simmered all day.

IMG_1459As with any of my recipes this is just a suggestion of the direction the dish can go. Use what you have on hand or love. Change the ingredients as much as you want. This is not a dish that comes in a box ready for you to prepare (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Here’s what I did…now make it your own.

Italian Sausage and Cannellini Stew
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Italian Sausage and Cannellini Stew
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Slice the sausage links into 1 inch chunks (this is easier if they are slightly frozen) and brown in a soup pot over medium heat. Remove the sausage and set aside. Drain off most of the fat in the pot.
  2. Add the olive oil to the pot and allow it to get hot. Add the onions and the carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally for 3 - 4 minutes until the onions begin to soften.
  3. Add the bell pepper, mushrooms, jalapeno, garlic, and squash. Cook for 5 minutes or as long as it takes for things to get soft and fragrant.
  4. Add the wine to the pot and stir to loosen all the brown goodies on the bottom of the pot. Add the tomatoes and the chicken stock to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes or so.
  5. Return the cooked sausage chunks to the pot along with the cannellini beans and season with the Italian Herbs.
  6. Let everything simmer for another 10 minutes or so to heat things through. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add more herbs or salt and pepper as you like.
  7. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with the grated Romano, and serve.
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A New Year…A New Project…A New Pasta

We are already a week into the new year. I’ve decided that I want to challenge myself to be more mindful of the food I create this year. I know that every dish that I make doesn’t need to have its own moment as the star of a post, but I thought that I would try to catalog each dish that I create with a picture and a brief description. I will admit that this is partly to help me keep track of what I make, my memory, after all, isn’t getting any younger. You need have no fear of being overwhelmed with posts because I will only be sharing some of them in detail.  Bear with me this first week, I’ll share several of the plates that graced our table and yes, there will be a recipe (just one) at the end.

We started the year off with what I think was a wonderful NYE dinner. Yes it was technically 2015, but I wanted to set the tone for the coming year and no it does not mean that we will eat like this on a regular basis. We had Surf, and Turf, and Turf.IMG_0998

A small lobster tail, a bacon wrapped filet, and a lamb chop all were grilled to perfection by Papa D. Proscuitto wrapped asparagus and sautéed grape tomatoes completed the plate. We said goodbye to the old year with full and happy stomachs….

With the meat feast behind us we entered into the new year. Continuing on the theme of healthy vegetable forward meals, I turned 8 ounces of pork into  colorful kabobs that  were as tasty as they were healthy. Peppers, onions, yellow squash, and potatoes were marinated and grilled before they came to rest on a bed of sautéed spinach.IMG_1012

I plan to keep “Meatless Mondays” on the menu. I may even throw in a Meatless Wednesday or IMG_1033Thursday from time to time. Our first Monday Minus Meat was a pasta dish that featured Artichokes and Cannellini Beans with Whole Wheat Rotini. I started with a can of whole artichoke hearts. I prefer these because they hold together better than the quartered variety and you can cut them to the size that works for you. In this case, I quartered them (ironic, huh?) before I browned them in a skillet with olive oil. Frozen hearts are another good option, but unless you are near a Trader Joe’s, you may not find them. Of course, if you can find fresh baby artichokes that would be wonderful…I didn’t have any luck with that, either, but I did have the can of hearts in the pantry.

Mama D’s Trinity went into the pan. This time the onions were red and the garlic was sliced. I cut all the grape tomatoes that I had in half and added them to the pan along with the drained and rinsed beans. I added a generous splash of vegetable stock to keep everything lubricated. The sauce would later be bulked up with a cup of the pasta water. I added some red pepper flakes and fresh parsley to seal the deal. Then I let it rain Pecorino Romano Cheese.IMG_1043

This dish will feed two lavishly with enough left over  for someone to have a nice lunch the next day.IMG_1045

Pasta with Artichokes and Cannellini Beans
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Servings
3
Servings
3
Pasta with Artichokes and Cannellini Beans
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Servings
3
Servings
3
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions minus a minute or 2. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to a hot skillet. Place the artichoke hearts in a single layer in the pan. Cook until lightly brown, turning as needed, 4-5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and add the onions and garlic. Cook a few minutes until they soften and smell wonderful.
  4. Add the beans and tomatoes and toss to combine. Add the vegetable stock and cook for 4 minutes or so. If the mixture seems dry, add a little more stock.
  5. Return the Artichokes to the skillet. When the pasta is cooked, reserve one cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and add to the skillet.
  6. Add the pasta water, parsley and pepper flakes to the skillet along with the cheese. Toss everything to combine and allow to cook for another few minutes until the cheese has melted.
  7. Serve with more cheese to add at the table.
Recipe Notes

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The new year will hold many new adventures and many of them will happen in the kitchen. There will hopefully be a little travel, a lot of family time, and of course, lots of love.

Italian Tomato Soup, Literally

I used to come home for lunch when I was in grade school. I couldn’t wait to get in the door and discover what my mom had made for lunch. Sometimes it was a sandwich, but most of the time it was something hot and that hot item was often soup. Tomato was one of my favorites. My mother always used Campbell’s, but made it her own by adding milk instead of water. It changed the color from rose to salmon and it tasted wonderful. Every once in a while she’d stir in some leftover rice and the bowl of goodness became even more comforting. Back then the Grilled Cheese Sandwich of choice was made with Velveeta. Steaming hot tomato soup and a gooey grilled “cheese” sandwich made coming home for lunch extra special. (Disclaimer: Remember, this was the 1950’s. The world of convenience food was in its prime and my mother being a modern, forward thinking woman, embraced it.)

That was then and this is now, as the saying goes. I now know that making  homemade tomato soup is super easy. It just takes tomatoes. either fresh or canned and whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand to sweeten the deal. The time for fresh tomatoes has passed, so this soup started with a large can of tomatoes. These weren’t your basic tomatoes, no sir. These were the veritable Cadillac of tomatoes. These were San Marzano.

2015-08-16-1439737857-6365608-sanmarzano1These heirloom tomatoes originated in a town near Naples were they grew in the rich volcanic soil  surrounding Mount Vesuvius. To be authentic they have to grow in that area. This easily makes a can of them twice the price of the domestic variety, but it is so worth it. The San Marzano is sweet and rich and has low acidity. All of these factors make it a perfect choice for soup.

IMG_0665Mama D’s Trinity (onions, garlic, and olive oil) was the foundation. The trio became a quartet when I added a good dose of Red Pepper Flakes.IMG_0668 Besides the tomatoes I decided to continue the Italian theme by adding some Toasted Farro and Cannellini Beans. Both of these have made appearances here before. Farro actually comes from Italy and the beans’ ancestors came over on the boat, too.

IMG_0779The Trinity sweat with the pepper flakes before the tomatoes went into the pot along with some Chicken Broth. I would have used Vegetable stock, but I didn’t have it on hand. Either one will do the trick. I decided to keep the Italian vibe going and added a bit of Marsala Wine, I let this all simmer together for twenty minutes or so before I took a potato masher to it. This gave it a rustic chunky texture that I found quite enjoyable, but you could use an immersion blender if you want your soup base to be silky smooth.

The cooked farro and the drained beans went in next along with some generous grinds of my McCormick Italian Herb Blend. I let things bubble away a bit more before, in a nod to my Mom, I added some half and half.  The soup was delightful. Just rich enough to be satisfying, but light enough to be guilt free.IMG_0676What’s tomato Soup without Grilled Cheese? Incomplete. My version was more cheese toast than sandwich and featured shredded Asiago.IMG_0673 If I’d had a baguette on hand, I would have definitely used it, but I didn’t so some Italian Bread stepped in. Use whatever cheese you love or have on hand. Just goes to show that anything that works for you, works.IMG_0686

Italian Tomato Soup with Farro and Cannellini Beans
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Italian Tomato Soup with Farro and Cannellini Beans
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
Farro
  1. Toast the farro: Rinse 1/2 cup farro and allow to dry. Place the farro in a dry fry pan. Turn heat on stove to medium and toast the farro, stirring frequently until it is golden and fragrantly nutty, 10 -15 minutes
  2. Bring 2 cups of water (or broth) to a boil. Stir in the toasted farro and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, 30 minutes or so. The farro should be chewy but tender. Drain any remaining liquid and set aside.
Soup
  1. Heat a soup pot over medium high heat. Add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat with the oil and cook for 5 minutes or so until the onion begins to soften.
  2. Stir in the stock, tomatoes, Italian Seasoning, and Marsala. Bring up to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer for 20 - 30 minutes. Use a potato masher to create a chunky soup. Hit it with the immersion blender if you want it smooth.
  3. Stir in the farro and beans. Simmer for a little longer; 15 minutes is about right.
  4. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with the pesto and croutons if desired.
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Soup season is upon us and there will be more soup adventures as Fall settles into Winter. There is nothing quite like a bowl of warm comforting soup in the Kitchen of Love.

Summer Vacation and Italian Three Bean Salad in the Kitchen of Love

It’s hard to believe that my summer vacation will be over in a week. As the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun. To be honest, I will still have a generous portion of each afternoon to do all the summer type things that I am remembering how much I enjoyed. While I’m not riding my bike or trying to go “over the bars” on a swing, I am taking time to enjoy the simpler things that made the Midwestern summers of my childhood so special, warm days, long evenings, and now, time in the kitchen.  I am loving the time that I can spend planning and preparing meals. Produce abounds from the garden, farm stands, and the grocery store. The colors and textures paint visions of meals that are vegetable driven, healthy and dare I say it, fabulously delicious.

I’ve gone back to dinners around a theme. Recently we had an Italian inspired dinner. Okay, lots of my dinners have an Italian vibe. What do you expect? I’m Italian and proud of it. “Italian-ness” aside, I do love pork. Tenderloins are my current favorite because they are versatile, quick cooking and the perfect size for two. I wanted to do another version of the pork wrapped in pork that is always so succulently yummy. I had a little thin sliced pancetta that I carefully uncoiled to create a delicate casing for the pork.

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The seasoning for the meat had a very sausage like taste…red pepper flakes, fennel, and Italian herbs. In the summer, if you are Italian, and you think sausage, the next thing to pop into your head is peppers. Of course, peppers fried in olive oil with a bit of onion had to become the side.

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Now what? In what I feel was a stroke of brilliance, a bean salad came to mind. Then the gears in my Italian brain meshed and I decided to make an Italian version of Three Bean Salad. We all remember the traditional Three Bean Salad that often appears at picnics and many salad bars. Varying combinations of green and kidney beans swim in a decidedly sweet vinegar dressing. Can this become a Paisan? I kept the green beans and added garbanzo and cannellini beans. The dressing went from sweet to tangy with the addition of lemon juice and white balsamic vinegar. Garlic and olive oil completed the transformation.DIGITAL CAMERA I opted to use rosemary and parsley as the herb component because I love how they taste with lemon. I chose red for the onion and pepper because they’re pretty and it gave a little nod to the Italian flag. As with any marinated salad, I made it early in the day so that everything had time to become as friendly as the goombahs from the old neighborhood.

Italian Three Bean Salad
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Italian Three Bean Salad
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cook the green beans in salted boiling water for about 2 minutes. You want them quite crisp, but with a tender heart.
  2. Drain the beans and cool quickly in a bowl of ice water. Drain well again and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add the cannellini and garbanzo beans to the bowl. Let the peppers and onions join in the fun, too. Toss everything together.
  4. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice & zest, garlic, mustard, rosemary and parsley in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until the dressing is completely blended.
  5. Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss to coat everything. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, overnight if you have the time.
  6. Give it one more good toss before you serve it and taste again, making any adjustments. It's ready.
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This was a wonderful partner for the pork and peppers, but it would go well with any grilled meat and would be a hit at any party you brought it to. Another plus for this dish is that it can easily function as a one dish meal. The beans provide plenty of protein and fiber, but if you wanted to up the ante, add some cheese.

I did just that for lunch the next day. A little feta cheese, some tomatoes and a nice bed of baby greens from the garden made for a lunch that was as tasty as it was pretty.

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Fully Loaded Minestrone…a Soup in Three Chapters

Once upon a time Mama D stayed home and cooked everyday. She created lots of wonderful dishes and wrote about them in great detail. She’s not a stay at home Mama anymore, but she is still in the kitchen every chance she gets and the wonderful dishes and stories continue to appear right here.

These days time management is the keyword in Mama’s kitchen. Working a split shift gives me a block of time in the middle of the day. Making something wonderful in these small windows of time is developing into an art form that I really enjoy. Many times I break a recipe down into smaller parts and complete each one before putting them together to create something delicious. That’s how this soup came to be.

Chapter One involved preparing the stock base. I began by sweating onions, garlic, and carrots in a little olive oil. DIGITAL CAMERAMy seasonings were simple, some Crushed Red Pepper Flakes and a healthy dose of McCormick Italian Herb Blend. (Love, love this)DIGITAL CAMERAA quart of my turkey Stock (featured in a previous adventure) went in and I let everything simmer for a good 30 minutes. I added a can of drained Fire Roasted Tomatoes and let it simmer a bit more. I stored it in the refrigerator overnight.

This soup story needed a little more meat. I found some bite size turkey meatballs that I had made a while back as well as one link of turkey italian sausage. I’m not sure why I only had one link, but it was the perfect little addition when I cut it in small pieces and baked it with the meatballs. They joined the stock in the refrigerator.DIGITAL CAMERAChapter two began the next day with cutting the vegetables that would happily swim in the soup. This task fit nicely into my mid-day window. I chose zucchini, colored bell peppers and frozen green beans.DIGITAL CAMERAThey created a vibrant splash of color, but they happened to be what I had on hand. They would go in near the end of the cooking. The shorter cooking time allowed them to keep their vivid color and a slightly crisp texture.

It isn’t Minestrone for me unless there is some kind of bean. Cannellini filled the bill beautifully. Drained and rinsed they would come fashionably late to the party. So, my mise en place was in place, ready for the final chapter that began when I got home from work.

The soup pot was ready on the stove and the tomato – turkey stock went back in. It heated slowly while I enjoyed a  glass of wine and some pleasant conversation with my husband.

When it was time to add the veggies, I wanted to give them a little extra love, so I briefly cooked them in a little olive oil and Italian Herb blend. The green beans sat this step out because they were already blanched.DIGITAL CAMERA

Finally the time was right to bring all the characters together for the denouement. The vegetables, beans, meatballs, and sausage joined together in the pot in perfect harmony.DIGITAL CAMERAA little more time over the heat and it was ready to eat. The only adornment was a little shaved Pecorino Romano. It was as satisfying as finishing a really  good book…DIGITAL CAMERAThis soup can easily be made all at once in the traditional way. That’s how the recipe is written. As always, make it your own…use the ingredients you love or what’s on hand. Use as many short cuts as you want or take the long way round. Here’s the basic recipe to get you started.

Fully Loaded Minestrone
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Fully Loaded Minestrone
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Warm a large soup pot over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and heat for 1 minute. Add the chopped onions, carrots and garlic to the pan alond with the pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon of the Italian seasoning and cook stirring occasionally 5 minutes. The vegetables should begin to soften and become fragrant.
  2. Add the stock and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the drained tomatoes and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  3. While the stock simmers cook the meatballs and sausage. This can be done in the oven at 350 degrees. It will take about 20 minutes. Set aside when cooked.
  4. In a large fry pan heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the peppers, zucchini and the remianing Italian Herb Blend. Cook for 5 minutes just until the vegetables are slightly soft.
  5. Add the meats and sauteed vegetables to the simmering soup pot. Cook for 5 minutes or so. Add the drained cannelinni and the green beans. Simmer 5 minutes more or until everything is heated through.
  6. Taste and make any adjustments to the seasonings. Ladle into bowls and serve with a bit of shaved Romano Cheese.
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