Monthly Archives: December 2017

Pasta e fagioli with chicken

Pasta e fagioli

Pasta e fagioli is a classic italian recipe, a «primo» you will find anywhere in the italian peninsula, from the northest parts of Trentino – Alto Adige to the southest corners of Sicily. It has its roots deeply immersed in the history of the rural parts of the country and, frankly, I don’t know many Italians that haven’t tasted it and/or love it. There are as many recipes as there are families, but the main thing you need to remember is this: small pasta and beans. Lots of beans. And tomato.

As far as this particular dish we cooked goes, we had to improvise a bit, since we decided to make it at the very last minute. OK, that’s not entirely true, we decided to make it in the morning, but there were leftovers that needed to go, so we changed things a bit and added leftover rotisserie chicken. Because we had it. We also added a (very very hot) red chili pepper from our own pepper plant, because we wanted to try it. Yes, it was the very first chili from our own plant and it was fan-ta-stic. All in all, comfort food at its best.

One note: You are welcome to use canned beans and you are welcome to use any beans you like. We used dry cannellini beans, because that’s what we had in our jars, but anything is fine. We boiled the beans for more than two hours before using them in our dish, a step which, of course, you will skip if you are using canned beans. Also, keep in mind that dry beans take less time to boil if you soak them in water from the night before. In other words, don’t take our word for the time needed, always test your food.

Now, let me see if I remember everything we did.

What you’ll need:

½ cup dry beans, which you will boil along with some bay, a little oil, pepper. I always add a little lemon at the end.

Some pancetta, prosciuto or bacon (I used 4 rashers of bacon. They weren’t very thin, fyi)

2 carrots

1 large onion

1 red chili pepper from your garden (or from the supermarket) (optional)

(celery – I didn’t use any because we don’t like it, but everyone else loves it)

A couple of bay leaves

Some rosemary

Some thyme or oregano

About ¾ cup of ditalini

1 can crushed tomato

1-2 cups of rotisserie chicken

1 litre of chicken broth, vegetable broth or water

What you’ll do

  1. Ready the beans, by boiling them for endless hours, until they are ready.
  2. Chop the carrots, the onion, the chili pepper and the garlic (and the celery, if using).
  3. Cut the bacon in not-very-small pieces. Heat some olive oil in a pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Let it render some of its fat and then add the veggies (garlic included), the bay leaves (break them in half first), the rosemary and thyme or oregano and give them a swirl. Add some salt and pepper and let them cook for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato and bring everything to a boil.
  5. Add the beans along with about a cup of its juice. The thicker it is, the better. Bring to a boil again.

5 and a half. If you want, you can take about a cup of the bean mixture as it has cooked by now and blend it, then pour it back in the pot. That will make your mixture thicker, and, according to the old Italians, the thicker the better.

  1. Add the chicken, let it be incorporated with the rest and then add the broth (or water, whatever you are using). Bring everything to a boil.
  2. Once everything is boiling, add the pasta and let it boil. Cook for as long as the pasta needs to be prepared. At some point, taste for seasoning.
  3. Serve with some Parmesan cheese and some parsley.

This recipe yields 3-4 servings, depending on how much you eat and whether you are having it as a primo or secondo.

 

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The easiest, and (possibly one of) the most delicious, apple “pie”

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There are a lot of apple dessert recipes online that claim to be easy and delicious and “light” at the same time and more often than not that is not the case. This recipe, however, is one of those that actually combines all those three elements. It will take you no more than 15 minutes to prepare and it is absolutely mouth watering even if you use just a couple of tablespoons of sugar and two tablespoons of butter (which makes it one of the least fattening desserts you can find).

Based on a recipe found on Bon Appetit this apple “pie” is perfect for every time you want some comfort food and an easy, yet delicious, treat for times when friends come over and you don’t really have too much time to prepare something.

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*Note: I prefer not to quantify spices. Just add as much as you like. Spices depend on taste and preference. What I do is, I add the spices, as much as I think will be ok, then smell it and if it smells good for me, that’s how much I use. As a rule of thumb, I usually start with about 1 tsp of each spice.

What to do

Serves: 3

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 large apples

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar (you can use less if you want to, it doesn’t make that big of a difference)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Ground cinnamon

Ginger

½ teaspoon salt

½ lemon

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

Some granulated sugar (for sprinkling)

How to do it

Preheat the oven to 230° C and brown the butter. Clean and cut the apples in small and larger pieces and place them in the pan you will bake them in. Add the sugar, flour, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, salt, lemon (and some lemon zest) and some of the butter and mix everything together.

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Cut the pastry in small and larger pieces and place it on top of the apples. Brush the pastry with the rest of the butter and sprinkle some sugar on top. Bake for 35 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 160° C and bake for another 30 minutes.

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Take out of the oven and with the back of a spoon press some of the pieces in the apple juices (optional). Let it rest for a while and enjoy!


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