Archives for posts with tag: White 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

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Been too long since my last post.

It’s not that I haven’t been eating anything good, just nothing too post-worthy, but also I’ve just been busy. Working, occupying Wall Street, taking care of Grandma, studying Japanese. Even for me food can sometimes take a back seat. But not for long!

My slump changed on Saturday when a friend brought over last-of-the-season squash blossoms from the farmers market. The first time I had these babies was in Rome when I lived there back in 2003. I seem to remember they were something of a speciality in the city, especially stuffed with mozzarella (and sometimes anchovies), battered, and fried. In fact, that’s the only way I’d ever had them, from Rome to New York to Vermont.

But in a bold and unexpected move, my friend decided to serve them raw. She brought over a mixture of avocado and tomato and assembled them at the kitchen table, neatly spooning them into the cleaned blossoms. I was waiting for her to nudge me out of the way at the stove and start frying – I assumed they must be fried! – but she had us roll them up and bite in, unadorned by batter or copious oil. The avocado was a soft and creamy contrast to the somewhat sturdy petals of the blossom and the tomato provided just the acidic bite to round out the flavors.

So sometimes zucchini can get a bad rap. I’ve heard it referred to as a swollen ovary, immature fruit, and just plain nuisance. (My goodness, would you kiss your mother with that mouth?) It seems the supply and demand ratio is a bit off come August–September, with an over-abundance leading otherwise perfectly civilized folks to “zucchini” their friends, neighbors, and total strangers by leaving bags of the stuff in cars and on doorsteps. It’s a pastoral version of “ring and run.”

For those that don’t know, squash blossoms are  just that – the flower that blooms from both the male and female squash, and typically we’re eating the flowers from zucchini specifically. As I mentioned, they’re often served stuffed and then fried or baked, but you want to remove the pistils first from the female flowers and stamens from the males.  I mean, who wants to eat reproductive organs with dinner? And you can eat the whole flower but avoid the hard and fibrous stem.

(Here’s a recipe from Saveur that I like.)

We served the stuffed blossoms as a first course to a meal that included white beans simmered with turmeric, coriander, and chile; a pork roast with a rub of cumin, black pepper, and fennel seeds; and sauteed kale with cayenne, lemon and garlic. I think these may in fact have been the only swollen ovaries I had all summer, and according to signs at the farmers market last week, they will be my last, until next summer. Serves us right I suppose, for all the slandering of excess zucchini all summer long, that we should be denied any for another year. Who you calling swollen?

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