minestrone con il pesto

September 30, 2013 § 43 Comments

This is a perfect soup for day three of a constant downpour here in Seattle.  Years ago I was skimming through a friend’s cookbook and found this recipe.   I asked her for a scratch piece of paper and all she could find was a sticky pad.   Using a red ink pen, I proceeded to handwrite  the recipe in the tiniest penmanship I could in order to fit it on the two sides of the 2×4 sticky paper.   Here we are nearly thirteen years later and I finally made the soup!

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The flavor base of this soup is exceptional.  You first make a buttuto, which is a combination of onion, celery, garlic, carrot and pancetta (or bacon).  The name buttuto (italian) means to strike or, in this case, chop.   Once you have chopped your buttuto it becomes a soffritto, which simply means to sauté over high heat until lightly colored.   Chop and sauté.  So simple, flavorful and a beautiful foundation for this comforting soup.

I n g r e d i e n t s

Pesto

  • 4 cups packed basil
  • 1 cup parmesan,  grated
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • a little salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 plum tomato, seeds removed

Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 ounces pancetta or 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 medium size yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1/4 head Savoy cabbage, cored and thinly shredded
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 7 whole, peeled canned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup broken dried spaghetti
  • 1 – 15 oz. can cannelini beans
  • salt and pepper to taste

M e t h o d

Make the pesto.  Place all the pesto ingredients in a food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat.  Add pancetta and cook, stirring often, until fat has rendered, about 2 minutes.  Add garlic, carrots, celery, and onions and reduce heat to medium.  Cover and cook stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, 12–15 minutes.  Add zucchini and cabbage.  Cover and cook until wilted, 3–5 minutes.  Add stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.  Drain and rinse the cannelini beans.  Mash half the beans with a fork and add to the soup along with whole beans—cook until warmed through.  Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with pesto dolloped on top.

Serves 4.

green beans

April 16, 2013 § 3 Comments

Green beans simply steamed, tossed with a drizzle of olive oil and salt makes an ideal side dish.  Or, you may spruce them up a little with caramelized shallots.  A perfect accompaniment.

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Here is a delicious green bean recipe for you.   Once a week a platter of steaming green beans is on our dinner table.  Green beans are the only “green” vegetable the young man of the house will eat.  As a young girl I loved them too.  Green beans are agreeable in texture and the natural nutty flavor makes them particularly kid friendly.  My mom called them string beans.  Back then I recall an unpleasant fibrous string along the edge of each bean.  The varietal we buy in the stores today are stringless.  They are available year round, with the peak of the season May through October.  To check for freshness make sure they are firm and snap when bent in half.   Pick up a pound of green beans and four shallots next time you are at the market and cook this recipe.  You will be happy you did.

What you will need:

  • I lb. green beans, stems pinched off
  • 4 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • sea salt and pepper

Method:

Place green beans in a large skillet or large pot and fill with water to cover beans half way.  Cover and bring to a roaring boil.  Continue boiling for approximate 5 minutes until green beans are tender.  I carefully remove one and taste test it.  Cook according to your liking.  Some like them a little more firm.  I prefer them to be tender, yet slightly crisp….al dente.  Drain and return to pan.  Toss with 1 tablespoon butter until coated.

Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat and add shallots.  Cover and turn heat down to medium low.  Cook until golden brown giving the pan a little shake now and then.  Cook approximately 15 minutes.

Transfer green beans to a serving dish, top with shallots and a sprinkling of sea salt and pepper.

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serves 4

buon appetite.

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