Asian noodle bowl



Can't live without my julienne peeler.  In just a few strokes it made these long tube-shaped ribbons of carrots and zucchini which I tossed with spaghetti for a simple asian noodle bowl.  A well-designed julienne peeler is an essential tool in the SimplyCooking® kitchen.  The Kinpira  fits compactly in a drawer, rinses clean easily, has a sturdy handle and with years of daily use, the blade is sharp as new.   This is an easy way to make raw "spaghetti" out of zucchini or squash, a picnic carrot salad, slaws or a veggie noodle bowl, like this, where julienned vegetables create a tri-color spaghetti look - so pretty, equally good.

Kinpira Julienne Peeler ; $20 from Sur la table
This veggie laden "bowl" is based on a recipe from Ana Zaharia, a health coach with delicious but still approachable raw recipes on her website, anazarahia.com.  Even if you're not on the raw foods track, her site is inspiring and worth a visit.   I modified a few ingredients per the SimplyCooking® pantry; most people don't keep kelp noodles on hand but most everyone has some form of favorite noodle somewhere in the pantry.  I indicate spaghetti which is broadly kid friendly.   I replaced the cremini mushrooms with a can of water chestnuts.  Add what you like; add what you have for a super easy asian noodle bowl.







asian noodle bowl (adapted from "raw asian noodle bowl" , anazaharia.com)

Put water on to boil for the spaghetti.  As the spaghetti cooks prepare the sauce and vegetables.

sauce
2 Tbsp. cashew butter
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/3 cup water
1 tsp. cumin
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. minced ginger

Place sauce ingredients in a deep bowl and combine with an immersion blender.  (A regular blender can also be used.)

1 package spaghetti noodles
2 carrots, julienned
1 zucchini, julienned
2 stalks celery, finely sliced
1 can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped

Cook the noodles, drain.  Place warm spaghetti in a serving bowl.  Add sliced vegetables and toss with sauce. Serve.







Vegetable Terrine



I love the simplicity and rustic nature of this dish.  A layered tower of tender vegetables slide into a colorful mound on the plate.  Tear off a chunk of crusty bread and soak up the juices.  This is the perfect simple meal for early spring when you want an easy dish to prepare with a few pantry basics.  I often make this recipe on a day of cleaning out the gardens.  It's a nice afternoon break to make the dish.  It then bakes for almost two hours while I head back out.   Upon my return - dirty, tired and cold - a warm dinner welcomes me, and so good it smells.

When I say the dish has a rustic simplicity, this is actually quite the opposite of what anything 'terrine' typically conjures. A terrine, part of classical French cooking, refers to an oblong baking dish with deep sides in which ground or finely chopped and seasoned meats, or sometimes vegetables, are layered.  It's  either baked in a bain-marie (water bath) or molded by refrigerating.  When the loaf is unmolded and sliced, the pretty layering is revealed.  Often an intricate sauce is part of the recipe.  I have great admiration for French cuisine, the Art of French Baking on my counter as I write.  One its authors is Cloutide Dusoulier.  She writes a wonderful French food blog, Chocolate and Zucchini. and has several charming and authentic French recipes for terrines, including one with zucchini, carrots, herbs, eggs and goat cheese.  Soon I will make her recipe.  For now,  I'm absorbed by the rose garden my husband and I are adding to our yard and myriad other projects.  My cooking this Spring is efficient and healthful, to the point and meant to please all of us.  

This SimplyCooking® recipe breaks the rules for terrines.   The process is far simpler, the ingredients basic; it's a broader interpretation that turns 'terrine' into a simple everyday recipe.

vegetable terrine

1/4 cup grape seed oil
2 cloves peeled garlic
2 medium potatoes, Yukon Gold can be unpeeled
1 medium onion, peeled
1 zucchini
1/2 bell pepper
3 carrots, peeled
spinach leaves, about 1 cup
Salt, Celtic Sea Salt preferable
1 tsp. dried oregano (or thyme, or rosemary)
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 generous tsp. honey
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
Parmesan or goat cheese, grated (optional)

Measure out the oil and place peeled garlic cloves in the cup.  Set aside while you prepare the dish.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Slice the vegetables (except spinach) very thinly, as thin as you can.  Brush he sides and bottom of a loaf pan with some of the garlic oil, reserving the remainder for later.  Layer half of the vegetables in the pan, starting with the potatoes and ending with the spinach.  Arrange them neatly, pressing down as you go.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.  Repeat the layering.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and 1 tsp. dried oregano.  Empty the canned tomatoes into a bowl and stir in a generous spoonful of honey.  Drizzle the liquid over the vegetables and arrange the tomatoes over the top.  The pan will be mounded.  Cover tightly with heavy duty foil.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil.  Bake for 1 hour.

Remove the foil and sprinkle  with breadcrumbs and the reserved garlic infused oil.  Bake an additional 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand a few minutes before serving.  Slice and top with a little grated Parmesan or goat cheese.

Note:  The leftovers are even better, I think.  Let the baking dish cool, cover with wrap and refrigerate, storing the leftovers in the original baking dish.  

Meatless Meatballs


Meatless Monday Special:  Meatballs.

Lentils are the base for this modern meatball.  Made with just a few ingredients from your SimplyCooking® Pantry, this simple everyday recipe lends itself to many imaginative meals.  Upcoming posts on Mondays will feature healthful twists on meatballs.  Meanwhile substitute these little meatless meatballs in your favorite meatball dish.

meatless meatballs

1/3 cup breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp. milk (or almond milk)
1/2 cup lentils
1 cup water
1 egg
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. minced parsley
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt (Celtic Sea Salt preferred)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
a little lemon zest
3 Tbsp. oil (grapeseed* or olive oil), divided

Preheat oven to 400 °F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Soak the breadcrumbs in milk as the lentils cook.  Rinse the lentils very well.  Place them in a small saucepan with 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook, uncovered, 15 minutes or until tender, but not mushy.   Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.  Drain if necessary.

Place the lentils and breadcrumbs in a food processor bowl and process until a paste forms.  Remove this mixture to a medium sized bowl and add the remaining ingredients.  Stir and mash with a large spoon until all the ricotta cheese is fully incorporated.

Roll into small balls no larger than 1" in diameter and place on the lined baking sheet.  Brush with 2 Tbsp. oil.  Bake 12 minutes.  Remove the sheet and turn the meatballs, gently and very quickly reforming to a  ball shape with your fingertips as you turn them to the browned side up.  Brush with the remaining 1 Tbsp. of oil and return to the oven.  Bake 8 minutes more.  Serve.

Makes 24 - 28 meatballs.

*Note:  All SimplyCooking® recipes will soon use grapeseed oil instead of vegetable oil.  








Orzo With Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Orzo with Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes, this salad is drenched with the sunny flavors of Southern France -  basil, tomatoes, olives, pine nuts and balsamic vinegar.  Each of these ingredients characterizes Provencal cuisine.  But the olive, in particular, brings to mind the deep blue sky found there.  Bundles of lavender.  Boulangeries and patisseries on every corner.  The narrow roads built in the hills of St.-Paul de Vence.   Perhaps it was the jar of olives presented to me each morning from the innkeeper in Avignon for our day on the road, olives signify the luscious tranquility and carefree spirit of Provence and a clarity of air and mind alike that is intoxicating.

When the last gray glimpses of winter become just too much to bear, escape to the Mediterranean.  A bowl of bouillabaisse while taking in the sea air may be a stretch,  but a bowl of Orzo with Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes can be made most simply with everyday ingredients found right in your SimplyCooking® Pantry.  Sip a glass of  Châteauneuf-du-Pape, pull out your linen napkins, linger over dinner and be transported for just a bit knowing bright, glorious days are just around the corner.



orzo with olives and sun-dried tomatoes

1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 1/2 cups orzo
2/3 cup diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup pitted black olives, halved or quartered if large
2 Tbsp. dried basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Put salted water on to boil for the orzo.  Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl, cover with hot water and soak 5 minutes.  Drain and slice the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces; set aside.

Lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat.  When they start to brown, remove the pan from the heat and cool.

Cook the orzo for 8 to 10 minutes until al dente, tender yet firm to the tooth.  Drain and transfer to a large bowl.  Add the hydrated and chopped sun-dried tomatoes, drained (if canned) diced tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar and olives.  Stir in the toasted pine nuts, dried basil and Parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve chilled or room temperature.

Rancher's Beans

Throw open the cupboard doors and discover the power of the pantry.  Rancher's Beans, a simple creation of canned beans and canned tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic and Southwestern spices melding into a quite delicious and soul-satisfying meal.

In most of life's work, systems help us to function at our best.  Systems allow us to eliminate roadblocks that inhibit us from doing a good job, or, from tackling the job at all.  And nowhere is this truer than in the kitchen.  Here,  having a few good systems in place can make a positive difference in our daily lives, as this one room is the primary source of our physical and spiritual nourishment.   SimplyCooking®  is one such system--a guideline of ingredients for stocking the pantry and a collection of recipes that use them. With a few cans of beans, canned tomatoes, an onion, pepper and basic spices, you have the ingredients for a hearty winter meal made simply.  That's power.

rancher's beans

1 Tbsp. grape seed oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green or red pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 - 15 oz. cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 15 oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taske
hot pepper sauce (optional)

Heat oil in a 4 quart pot or casserole.  Add onion, pepper and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.  Add beans, tomatoes and all seasonings.  Gently combine and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.  Serve immediately or cover and cook over low heat for up to 1 hour.  The flavors will continue to develop.  Season with hot sauce, if desired, for heat.

Serve over brown rice, pasta or couscous.  Excellent with cornbread.

Tuscan Beans with Spinach


Here's a super simple little dish featuring white beans, onions and thyme -- a nice idea for a simple Sunday supper.


tuscan beans with spinach

2 Tbsp. grape seek oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 Tbsp. dried thyme
pinch of salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 15-oz. cans white beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups vegetable broth
5 oz. fresh spinach

In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, warm the oil.  Add the diced onion and sauté 2 minutes.  Add the dried thyme, salt and pepper. Sauté 2 minutes more.  Add the drained beans broth and stir well.  Cover the pan.  Reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Add the fresh spinach.  Replace the lid and allow the spinach to wilt.  Stir and season to taste.  Serve over a bed of fresh raw spinach or cooked pasta.

Vegetarian Gravy

Vegetarian Gravy 
It's this exact week, each year, that one word comes to mind:  gravy.  When deciding on a Thanksgiving menu, how the gravy's to be made and seasoned invariably comes up.  Until recent years we never had this dilemma.  Jane, my grandmother, made the most delicious gravy and no one since her, that anyone in the family knows, can match.  It was perfectly seasoned, with a deep, rich flavor and enviable, velvety consistency -   not pasty, nor too thin and not in the least greasy.  Sheer perfection.  And she made it every Thanksgiving into old-age.

Since Jane's gravy, we've tried many gravy renditions; some quite involved and not one worth the effort.   I bought a bulb for degreasing and have since thrown it away.  It was impossible to clean and took a lot of space in a utensils drawer I don't like to be crowded.

Then a few years ago, during a non-gravy time of year - perhaps spring - I happened upon a recipe for a gravy made from roasted vegetables.  Always a fan of roasting vegetables, this method was my style and produced a wonderful gravy.  I made it several times, but by Thanksgiving had forgotten about it and moved on to yet another elaborate gravy production.  Recently my husband reminded me of that simple vegetarian gravy and we couldn't believe we had let it pass us by.  After several attempts and with him taste-testing, I've recreated the simple gravy we remember.  What I like about this method for vegetarian gravy is that by roasting the vegetables there's remaining browned bits and a pan to deglaze.  While not a lot of liquid, just this bit gives the gravy its depth of flavor and richness.  And of course, the recipe uses the very basic ingredients found in the SimplyCooking® Pantry.

I will roast a turkey this year, as I always do, removing stuffing and carving at the last minute.  But I won't be messing with the last minute gravy production.   I'll accent the turkey with this simple and delicious vegetarian gravy, happily made several days in advance.

vegetarian gravy

2 onions, peeled
5 stalks celery
5 carrots, peeled
1 apple
several sprigs of parsley
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp. dill weed
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grape seed oil
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup red wine or sherry


Preheat oven to 400 °F.  Halve the onion and cut each half in quarters.  Cut the celery, carrots and apple into 1/2 -inch pieces.  Place it all in a shallow roasting pan.  Place the parsley over the top.  Crush the herbs between your palms and sprinkle over the top.  Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil.  Roast for 45 minutes.

As the vegetables roast, warm the vegetable broth in a saucepan.  Remove the roasted vegetables and place in a blender.  Add 1 cup warm broth and pulse a few times to combine but not completely puree the vegetables.  Remove the contents of the blender to a bowl.  Place a strainer over the blender jar and return the vegetables back into the blender through the strainer.  Let the liquid drip into the blender for several minutes, mashing with a spatula to remove all the liquid.  Meanwhile, deglaze the roasting pan.  Place the empty roasting pan over two burners,  medium / low heat.  Add the wine or sherry.  (Brandy or bourbon may be substituted.)  Use a metal spatula to scrape all bits from the bottom of the pan.  Remove from heat.   Remove the strainer from the top of the blender.  Scrape the remnants of the pan into the blender.  Add the remaining 1 cup of warm vegetable broth.  Puree until smooth.  Season with additional salt and pepper.  Use immediately or cool and refrigerate for up to two days and re-warm just prior to serving.  Yield:  2 1/2 cups

Roasting Vegetables


Increasing productivity in the kitchen is the result of this worthwhile process:  pitching expired condiments and leftovers, clearing out seldom used cookbooks, paring down the stack of torn / printed out  recipes and -----  using the sad remnants of the produce drawer.   But how to turn each frog into a prince?  We tend to think of what can be made with each remnant; but my favorite solution is to roast the whole lot of them.  The flavors of most vegetables mingle quite nicely,  and from mushrooms to cauliflower, broccoli and peppers, there's really not a bad combination.

Roasting vegetables is quite simple to do.   It's a matter of chopping what you have into several different bite-sized shapes, tossing them with a very little oil and vinegar, seasoning with salt, coarse pepper and herbs and roasting them at a high heat.   Roasted vegetables can be served over quinoa or brown rice, rolled into a soft tortilla or tossed into pasta and topped with grated Parmesan cheese.

"Sometimes the greatest gain in productive energy will come from cleaning the cobwebs, dealing with old business, and clearing the decks,"  says David Allen.  The clearing of the vegetable drawer allows us to focus our energy toward the foods on hand and create enjoyable, flavorful meals in an orderly and efficient kitchen.

roasting vegetables

(an example of vegetables that could be used)

1 large onion, peeled, halved and sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 peppers; red, green or yellow, cut into 1" pieces
2 small zucchini, sliced thick and quartered
2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. grape seed oil
1/2  tsp. dried oregano, rosemary or thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400° F. Combine the vinegar and oil in a large bowl.  Add the herbs; crush between the palms of your hands.  Add the prepared vegetables and toss to coat.  Place in one layer on a jelly-roll pan and bake for 25 - 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Half-way through roasting use a tongs and toss again.

Mediterranean Layered Sandwich

This past weekend I had yet another enjoyable lunch at Winslow's Home.  My daughter and I had stopped for a few household items.  As usual, this  charming general store/cafe was packed with patrons and the food being served looked wonderful.  The Tarte Rustica caught my eye right off, so after shopping for a ticking striped ironing board cover, glass water jug for the fridge, a luggage scale and special salt, and after checking out the cookbook and journal section, we ordered lunch and nabbed our favorite table in the window.

The Tarte Rustica tasted every bit as good as it looked.  In between two wafer thin, crispy crusts was a layering of warm portabella mushrooms, spinach and roasted red peppers accented by a creamy tapenade.  It was so delicious I savored each bite, not really paying too much attention to how it was assembled.  It was only later when I thought about re-creating the dish that I regretted having devoured it without taking note.  I thought about the layers of flavors and textures and what came to mind was a sandwich version of this tarte Cindy created years ago for SimplyCooking®.  "Contrasting textures of crisp vegetables and creamy pesto dressing atop crusty French bread;" that's the Mediterranean Layered Sandwich.

With the warmer weather,  I'll be making this SimplyCooking® recipe frequently.  It can be made from just a few everyday ingredients.  Red onion, roasted red pepper, tomatoes, greens and mozzarella are layered between a horizontally sliced baguette.  On the base is a simple tapenade of olives, capers, basil, garlic and olive oil.  I make this in the morning, wrap the sandwiched baguette tightly in wrap and refrigerate all day until dinner.  We suggest serving the Mediterranean Layered Sandwich simply with greens or, if you have a few more minutes a Classic Greek Salad.

After Saturday, I'm ready again to start making this great warm weather sandwich and have abandoned the idea  re-creating Tarte Rustica.  Fussing with producing a wafer thin crust is not as appealing of an endeavor when the garden awaits.  Now my only regret is not having bought the women's working gloves I eyed hanging from fishing line above the table next to ours.  Perhaps another trip will soon be made.

mediterranean layered sandwich

1/4 cup dried basil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pitted black olives
1/4 cup capers, drained
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 baguette
8 oz. sliced mozzarella
1/2 large red onion, sliced
1 cup Romaine lettuce or spinach
6 oz. roasted red peppers, drained
3 tomatoes, sliced

Blend basil, oil, olives, capers and garlic in a food processor or blender until finely chopped.  Season with salt and pepper.  Slice the baguette in half horizontally.  Remove some of the interior bread on each half to make a thick shell.  Spread the dressing on each half.  Layer cheese, onions, greens, peppers and tomatoes on one of the halves.  Top with the second half.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap until serving.

Black Bean and Orzo Salad

We've been featuring SimplyCooking® recipes that use winter pantry staples and here is one more for your everyday recipe repertoire.  Black Bean and Orzo Salad is a nice side dish or an entree in itself.  The flavors combine wonderfully, making it taste like much more than the very simple recipe it is.  Some of the best food I've ever had was so simply prepared.  I admire chefs, and home cooks alike, who chose impeccable ingredients and bring out their best, combining flavors in imaginative ways with simple preparation.

One restaurant concept I've been following is True Food Kitchen in Phoenix.  Their motto resonates to some degree with that of the SimplyCooking® concept:  "Globally inspired cuisine that nourishes the body, mind & spirit."  I've not been to the restaurant but do have menus and brochures thanks to my husband who traveled to Phoenix on business last week.  I begged him to please stop by and visit the restaurant I've been reading about and been so intrigued by.  He'd have to eat somewhere, why not there?  Not easily impressed by restaurants, he texted me from the site, (even after a $50 cab ride) "This is  truly cool!"  The menu offerings are limited but interesting. They focus on the ingredients and not the method of preparation like so many restaurants do, especially high end ones.  I  suppose some restaurants have to justify the price by describing all the work the dish was to make.  Not at True Food Kitchen.  Here the menu is straight forward.  For $22 you can get "Diver Scallops, Black Rice, Lotus Root, Leeks & Ponzu."  Hum.  Lotus Root and Ponzu I've never heard of but would be willing to try; the same with Seared BronziniUmami Sauce, Anasazi Beans and Cotija Cheese.  Exotic ingredients are indeed on the menu.  But I was happy to see how many basic ingredients and simple applications are featured along side the exotic.  Many of these items are in the SimplyCooking® Pantry, or in our collection of recipes and meals:  Pasta with fresh ginger; Pasta with Olives, Capers and Tomatoes; Onion Tart; Dipping Sauces; Greek Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette; a Frittata; and Brown Rice with Vegetables.

Black Bean and Orzo Salad does use canned tomatoes and canned beans, so it may not qualify for the True Food Kitchen menu.   But, its preparation is simple and straightforward, the dressing made fresh, the flavors wonderful and the overall taste fresh and light, which makes Black Bean and Orzo Salad qualify as true food in my kitchen.

black bean and orzo salad

4 cups cooked orzo pasta
1 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup chopped onions, or scallions
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 - 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 15 oz. can diced tomatoes

dressing

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
 1/2 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss; set aside.  In a small bowl combine red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper.  Slowly whisk while adding the olive oil slowly in a steady stream until well combined.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss.  Chill until ready to serve.  Serve on lettuce leaves.

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup and the several previous posts (Red Beans and RicePasta e FagioliPotato Chowder) all draw on winter pantry items: canned or tetra packed beans, tomatoes and green chilies; warm spices and fresh staples like potatoes, onion and garlic.  When fresh and locally grown ingredients aren't available,  discover the real power of your pantry.  Cooking from scratch can still be done simply from the pantry stocked with this foundation.  

Fresh

  • onions
  • red peppers
  • green peppers
  • garlic
  • parsley
  • celery
  • carrots
  • potatoes

 

Tetra Packed or Canned

  • Diced tomatoes
  • Black, red, kidney, pinto, white beans
  • Chopped green chilies
  • Vegetable broth



black bean soup

1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
2 - 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 - 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1 can chopped green chilies

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion and red pepper until tender, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, place 1 can black beans and the clove of garlic in a food processor or blender.  Puree until smooth.  Use a little of the broth to thin, if needed.  Stir the tomatoes, vegetable broth, pureed beans, second can of whole beans, parsley, cumin, hot pepper sauce and chilies into the sautéed vegetables.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered,  5 - 10 minutes.

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta with beans or Pasta e Fagioli:  a classic Italian recipe.  Also, a pleasing and delicious meal wherever you happen to live.  I learned to make Pasta e Fagioli, of all places, at a cooking school in the South Texas Hill Country.  Here in the capital of the country's best brisket, barbequed ribs and breakfast burritos I found this simple, vegetarian dish a nice balance to the heavier, spicier and meatier cuisine we were indulging in frequently.  It is a quick dish to make after a long day.  The ingredients can be pulled off the shelf:   Two cans of diced tomatoes, two cans of beans, an onion and some dried herbs and pasta.  Any sort of pasta will do.  Any variety of red and white beans will do.  Use what you have.  Use what you like.  The beans and tomato sauce simmer as you boil the water and cook the pasta.   Serve the hot tomatoes and beans over the pasta.  Add a sprinkling of good Parmesan cheese and minced fresh parsley and enjoy.  Pasta e Fagioli is simple and delicious.  No wonder it is an Italian Classic.

pasta e fagioli

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed with a fork
2 - 14.5oz. cans diced tomatoes and juices
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 - 15oz. can red beans (kidney, black or pinto), drained and rinsed
1 - 15oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup water, as needed
1 lb. pasta, any variety
1/3 cup minced parsley
Parmesan cheese. grated or shredded

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.  Heat the oil in a large skillet or saucepan.  Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft, 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and dried herbs.  Simmer until the sauce is thick and hot, 5 - 8 minutes.   Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Add the drained beans and enough water to thin to desired consistency.  Simmer over low as the pasta cooks.

Cook the pasta to al dente, tender yet firm to the tooth; drain.  Serve a generous amount hot beans and tomatoes over the pasta.  Sprinkle with minced parsley and Parmesan cheese.