Pasta e Fagioli with Italian Sausage and Spinach

6 01 2014

With the bitter cold temperatures upon us, it’s no surprise that I was in the mood for a comforting bowl of homemade Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and beans). I was planning on whipping up my usual Pasta e Fagioli, but stumbled on a sausage, bean and spinach stew recipe from Rachel Ray that sounded delicious and thought…why not mesh them together! So that’s exactly what I did. This hearty Italian dish is sure to warm your soul on a cold, winter night!

Pasta e Fagioli with Italian Sausage and Spinach

Pasta e Fagioli with Italian Sausage and Spinach

The following makes 6-8 servings (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat, with inspiration from Rachel Ray):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups low-sodium, reduced-fat chicken broth
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1 pound mild or spicy Italian sausage (I used a pork/chicken sausage), casings removed, rolled into 1/2-inch meatballs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups small whole wheat pasta, such as macaroni or ditalini
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan, grated

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Make the sausage meatballs and put them on a baking sheet in the freezer to quickly set (a great trick I picked up from my mama!).

Meanwhile in another large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sweat the onion and celery for a few minutes, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant, a minute. Mix in the tomato paste and cook for another minute. Season with salt to taste. Add the thyme, bay leaf, chicken broth, beans and parmesan rind. Bring to a boil.

Once the pot of water is boiling, add the sausage meatballs. When they float to the top they’re done, using a spider utensil, remove them to a strainer. Quickly rinse with water and add to the soup.

When the soup has come to a boil, add the pasta and cook to al dente according to package directions. When there is 5 minutes left in cooking the pasta, add the spinach and stir until wilted.

Turn off heat and remove the bay leaf and cheese rind. Add the juice and zest of half a lemon and taste, season with salt and pepper if needed.

Serve grated parmesan cheese with Pasta e Fagioli,, a salad and of course, a glass of vino!


Beef Burgundy

28 01 2013

This is a great heart-warming stew perfect for chilly winter nights! The recipe below makes 8 servings…I’d recommend either cutting it in half (in which case you probably only need to cook it for an hour), or make the whole recipe and freeze the extras for an easy re-heat meal later on.

Beef Burgundy

Beef Burgundy

The following makes 8 servings (compliments of the South Beach cookbook):

  • 5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 lbs beef top round, well-trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 container (10 ounces) white mushrooms, quartered
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 whole sprigs fresh rosemary, plus additional cut-up sprigs for garnish
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper

In a dutch oven or large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add half the beef and cook until browned on the outside, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining beef.

Reduce heat to medium and add the onions. Cook, scrapping up any brown bits, until the onions are softened, about 3 minutes.

Add the carrots, mushrooms, garlic and rosemary stems. Continue to cook until the mushrooms start giving off their juice, about 3 minutes longer.

Pour the wine over the vegetables, stir well, and bring to a boil. Stir in the tomatoes and their juice, tomato paste and 2 cups water (I used chicken broth for some extra flavor, you could also use beef broth). Return the beef to the pan and stir to combine.

Cover the pan, leaving the cover slightly ajar, and simmer the stew for 1 hour over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook for 30 minutes longer, or until the carrots and meat are tender. Remove the rosemary sprigs and discard. Serve the stew hot.

Hearty Chickpea Stew With Pesto

18 09 2012

The evenings are growing chiller as we approach fall, and warm and hearty dishes like this stew are craved in my chateau! Adding a dollop of pesto gives a burst of flavor and one last nod to summer 🙂

Hearty Chickpea Stew With Pesto

The following serves 4 (compliments of Everyday Food):

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 springs oregano
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cans (15.5 oz each) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 thick slices stale rustic bread, crusts removed and torn into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto, for serving (you can use store-bought or homemade)

In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook until golden, 10 minutes.

Add oregano and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Stir in broth and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until onion is tender, 5 minutes.

Add chickpeas and bread and simmer until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve topped with a dollop of pesto.

This Girl’s extras:

  • After about 5 minutes of the onions cooking, I added 2 cloves of crushed garlic to add some extra flavor. I fished the cloves out just before adding the chickpeas and bread.
  • If you don’t have fresh oregano, just substitute a small pinch of dried oregano for each spring the recipe calls for (i.e. 5 springs = 5 small pinches)
  • I added a cheese rind when I added the broth, this will also add some additional depth and flavor to the stew. You can either remove the remainder of the rind at the end, or eat it if you’re a fan of cheese rinds.

Rustic Minestrone

16 01 2012

Soup….one of the ultimate comfort foods! Whether it’s cold outside or you’re feeling a little under the weather, a rich and hearty homemade soup is bound to make you feel warm and comforted! I tried this rustic minestrone recipe from Everyday Food tonight for my main squeeze who’s sick, and it did not disappoint.

Rustic Minestrone

The following serves 4 – 6:

  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 10 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups shredded chicken if you’d like or have on hand, I didn’t use the chicken and instead added a few more veggies
  • 3/4 cup small pasta shells ( I used ditalini pasta instead)
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1 parmesan rind, plus grated parmesan (ask your deli for the rind if you can’t find it by the fancy cheeses)
  • 1 bunch kale (about 3/4 lb), tough stems and ribs removed, leaves cut into 1-inch pieces (4 cups)
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced medium
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • Course salt and ground pepper

In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook until softened, 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add tomatoes with juice and cook until liquid is evaporated, 4 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil.

Add pasta, carrots and parmesan rind and cook 5 minutes. Add kale, zucchini and chickpeas and cook until zucchini is crisp-tender, 5 minutes. If you’d like to use the chicken, stir it in at this point and cook until warmed through, 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove rind before serving. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve with a salad or garlic bread.

This Girl’s tip: I waited to add the pasta until the very end, and gave all the veggies a few extra minutes to cook. It could be because I added more veggies instead of the chicken, but I would recommend adding the pasta at the end, cooking until al dente according to the package.