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Archive for February, 2011

I was looking for a good hearty soup to make the other day and was surfing around on the Food Network site.  I got a little fascinated by the different versions of Ribollita and ended up deciding that Giada’s version was the most appealing to me.  The reviews, for the most part, were glowing but then there were a few people who seemed to be true Italian’s who said it wasn’t authentic.  To me, if something is tasty, you can call it whatever you want and I will devour it.  To respect any true chef who doesn’t believe my soup is really Ribollita, I added an “ish” to comfort them.

Needless to say, I loved. this. soup.  I don’t know what I expected, but this soup was smoky and bold with a good note of spice and heat.  I added Kale and it added a good bite to it.

Serves 4

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

4 slices thick cut bacon or 4 oz pancetta

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

1 tsp red pepper flakes (adjust according to heat preference – I like it spicy)

4 cups veggie or chicken broth

1 28 oz can cannelloni beans

1 bunch spinach or kale, destemmed and chopped (could use a package of frozen spinach)

1 tbsp herbs de provence

1 zucchini, quartered and sliced

1 parmesan rind

1/2 cup chopped basil

1 loaf of sourdough bread or ciabatta, sliced

Shaved Parmesan for topping

Brown bacon or pancetta in a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot.  Add in the onions, carrots, and celery, a little salt and pepper and cook until onion is translucent (you may need to add just a touch of olive oil here if everything is sticking too much).  Stir in tomato paste until dissolved and then add in diced tomatoes and use a wooden spoon to get all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

Stir in red pepper flakes, broth, spinach or kale, cannelloni beans, herbs de provence, zucchini, and parmesan rind.  Bring back to a boil and then reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes.  Stir in basil and cook for another ten minutes.

Toast a piece of ciabatta or sour dough and place at bottom of the bowl.  Ladle soup over the top and sprinkle on a little parmesan cheese.

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I know, I know, it’s been a while since I have posted anything.  Work has gotten in the way of life unfortunately.  Also, my less than stellar cooking skills have kept me from posting a few of the less than noteworthy recipes I made.

All this being said, I needed to get back on the wagon so I scoured the web for the perfect recipe and low and behold came across a Rachel Ray via Smitten Kitchen recipe that I could not resist.  Rachel Ray referred to the recipe as “Never be single again Penne a la Vodka” and oh the irony there for me (and what a silly name)…but I was bound and determined to try it because a) I love Penne a la Vodka, b) it was easy, and c) Smitten Kitchen gave it the thumbs up which I always trust!  She didn’t let me down, this was so good I went back to dunk bread in it because I hadn’t had enough.

As always, this made way more than I could ever eat on my own so I made a little extra pasta for lunch tomorrow, poured a half cup of sauce over top, and put it away to take into the office.  With the rest, I put it in a large tupperware container to save for later, which will eventually turn into 7 ziploc freezer bags so I can save it for a rainy day.

This made about 9 half cup portions (over 2 oz of penne).

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp unsalted butter

2 shallots, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes (I like it really spicy so definitely scale back or omit if you don’t!)

3/4 cup vodka

salt and pepper

1 cup veggie or chicken broth

1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes (I used San Marzano)

1/2 cup heavy cream (spread out between the servings, it’s not so bad, right??)

16 oz penne pasta

Basil for garnish (chiffonade or tear into pieces)

Parmesan for garnish (shaved is best here)

Begin by melting the olive oil and butter together in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Stir in the garlic, shallots and red pepper flakes.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Pour in vodka and let it all cook down for about 5 minutes.  Stir in broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add salt and pepper and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, cook your Penne.  I like to watch portion sizes so I cook about 2 oz pasta per person (i.e. for myself) but you can make a whole batch (16 oz) and have leftovers for later.

After 20 minutes, stir in cream and bring back to a simmer.  Drain the pasta and stir into sauce (or you can spoon the sauce over the pasta for individual portions).

Top each portion with basil and parmesan.

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