Archives for category: Beans

Pasta-Fagioli-14

This is the first in a series of guest blog posts. This week I’m delighted to introduce Jill Ulicneya Brooklyn-based photographer and food lover. You can find her latest photos and drawings at jillieu.tumblr.com and at Instagram via @jillieu.

There used to be a wonderful Italian cafe on Bleecker Street named Scali, which I would frequent for its incredible vegetarian pasta e fagioli soup. Six dollars would get me a generous serving of steaming hearty tomato, white bean, and pasta goodness along with a crusty piece of bread. Since they closed in 2012, I haven’t found a better lunch deal nor have I found a pasta e fagioli that compares to theirs.

Now that winter is here in New York, I’ve been dreaming about a reunion with this soup. After researching, I found countless methods for pasta e fagioli, but nothing that sounded quite like Scali’s version. This is my attempt to recreate my old favorite.

Note: many recipes suggest cooking the pasta in the soup. I chose to cook it separately because I didn’t want the pasta to absorb too much liquid since I prefer a brothy soup.

Pasta e Fagioli

40 minutes
Serves 6

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion chopped
4 cloves garlic chopped
1 medium carrot chopped
1 small rib of celery chopped
1 bay leaf
1 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried Italian parsley
5 fresh basil leaves torn
1 15-ounce can of white beans
12 ounces small pasta, like malloreddus or ditalini
Parmesan (optional)
Salt
Pepper

Soup Directions

Heat a large pot with two tablespoons olive oil.
Add onion, garlic, carrot, celery and bay leaf to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and cook for five minutes on medium heat or until onion is tender.
Add canned tomatoes (do not drain), vegetable stock, red pepper flakes and dried parsley and stir to combine.
Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally.
Remove bay leaf (do not discard) and use immersion blender to blend ingredients to preferred smoothness.
Return bay leaf back to the mixture and add basil leaves and white beans.
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Pasta Directions

Fill a medium pot with water and set to high heat.
When the water begins to boil, “salt it like the sea” as my pasta nerd friend says.
Add the pasta and cook until pasta reaches preferred state
Drain the pasta.

To serve, place pasta in individual bowls and ladle the soup on top.
Grate some fresh parmesan over the soup and enjoy!

Pasta-Fagioli-3

Advertisements

Did you hear that winter’s over…Last year’s miracles will soon be forgotten. New creatures whirl in from non-existence, galaxies scattered around their feet. Have you met them? -Rumi

One day this week—I think it was Thursday—I stepped outside of my apartment and noticed that each and every tree on my block had blossomed overnight. I was in Manhattan later that same day and sure enough, the trees there too were exploding with color, especially the pink magnolia blossoms, and white Callery pear flowers. There’s something about spring that takes the edge off of New York. Everything softens: the light, the colors, the clothing, the people. Suddenly there’s pink on the concrete, bare feet in sandals, and rainbow sprinkles dripping down ice cream cones.

Once again I was in the mood for the kind of spring dish that strikes the right balance for March: in like a lion, out like a lamb. Nothing too heavy, but nothing too summery crisp either. Something with color, but also a little bit of warmth. Warm salads tend to do the trick. I was flipping through my cookbooks for inspiration and this here is a riff on another Ottolenghi dish. A combination of chickpeas, sautéed carrots, caraway seeds, chard, mint, and cilantro, served with greek yogurt, olive oil, and pickled shallots.

And because tonight’s the season 5 Mad Men premiere, I leave you with one of my favorite Joan quotes: “But that’s life. One minute you’re on top of the world, the next minute some secretary’s running you over with a lawnmower.”

Chickpea Sauté with greek yogurt and pickled shallots
Serves 4

1 shallot, cut in slivers
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp water
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 bunch of Swiss chard (300 g), stems and leaves separated
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 c (250 g) cooked chickpeas
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs: mint and cilantro work well, or chervil, chives, flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and black pepper

6 oz (100 g) greek yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil

You want to do a quick pickle of your shallot: place the shallot slivers in a small jar and cover with the vinegar and water, and add the salt and sugar. (I also threw in some fresh thyme I had lying around.) Let sit at least 30 minutes.

Bring a big pot of salted water to boil and add the chard stems, cook for 2 minutes, then add the leaves, cooking everything for an additional 3 minutes. Drain the water and rinse the chard (stems and leaves) in very cold water. Squeeze dry and do a rough chop.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the carrots and caraway seeds and sauté for 5 minutes, then add the chard and chickpeas and continue cooking for an additional 6 minutes. Then add the garlic, herbs, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat, adjust the seasoning.

To serve, combine the greek yogurt and olive oil with a bit of salt and pepper. Pile the vegetables onto serving dishes and spoon the yogurt mixture on top, drizzling with additional olive oil and scattering some pickled shallots on top.

Here are some photos of spring, from my neck of the woods…including: Long Island beach; Occupy Wall Street @ Union Square; @ Jay St.-MetroTech subway station; a friend’s little one, born on my birthday; more beauty on my block.

Beans (like Molly Ringwald) can be a thing of beauty. And I don’t think that’s just because I like Joni Mitchell, spent formative years in Vermont, or went to college a lentil’s throw from the Moosewood Restaurant. I’ve written here about chili, here about black beans, here about enchiladas, and here about my all-time favorite white beans from Union Square Cafe. My love for the legume, is, I feel, well documented.

I had some red kidney beans from Cayuga Pure Organics kicking around my cupboard and felt like taking them out for a spin. So I soaked them overnight without having a particular plan in mind, but knowing you can’t go wrong with having soaked beans around. They’re just too versatile. Today, after they’d bathed for close to twenty-four hours, I drained their soaking liquid, filled the pot with fresh water, threw in half an onion, three big cloves of garlic, and cranked up the heat. I cooked them for one hour until the beans were soft enough to squish in between my fingers.

I still didn’t quite know what I was going to do when my Ninja blender caught my attention on the other end of the counter. When in doubt: puree. I decided I’d make a bean dip. I let the beans cool a little, then mostly drained them, threw them in the Ninja with the cooked onion and garlic, and poked around for what else could smooth out the dip. I settled on homemade sesame tahini that was already made, and lots of salt and pepper. But it needed a little something for body. I had leftover cooked rice so I threw in 1/4 cup of that. One ninja minute later, I had a very pretty, pink dip. In the spring or summertime I would definitely add some fresh herbs to the mix.

I can’t really think of a type of bean this recipe wouldn’t work well for, so if you have black, pinto, navy, or other kinds of beans in the larder, give it a whirl. And I mean that literally.

Pretty in Pink Bean Dip

1 c dried red kidney beans (or your favorite type of bean)
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1/4 c tahini
1/4 c cooked rice (white or brown, short or long)
salt
pepper

Soak your beans overnight, covered by 3 inches of water. The next day, when you’re ready to roll, drain the soaking liquid, and refill the pot with water, covering the beans by about 2 inches of water. Throw in the onion, halved, and garlic cloves. Bring the water to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook on low-medium heat with a slightly ajar lid until the beans are thoroughly cooked through, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Turn the heat off and let the beans come to room temperature. Now you can drain the cooking liquid completely or preserve to use later (I made extra beans—2 c dried—and preserved the liquid to make a soup with the other half of cooked beans tomorrow). Remove any skins that may have been left on the onions and garlic and discard. Transfer the beans to a blender or food processor with about 1/2 of the cooked onion and all of the garlic cloves. Add the tahini, rice, and a good pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Puree until smooth.

Delicious served with your favorite cracker (I love Late July classic saltines), spread on bread, or served with raw veggies. I also admit to eating it by itself, by the spoonful. Think of it as hummus 2.0.

Postscript for my sister Hope – the onion and garlic will kill you, but try this with cooked leeks, celery, and carrots instead, and/or add 1/2 veggie bouillon.

How gorgeous is this tahini? Looks like raw honey.

%d bloggers like this: