Chickpea Soup with Arugula, Bruschetta with Homemade Ricotta Cheese and Fresh Oregano; Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pudding Cake with Fresh Berries

Chickpea Soup with Arugula, Bruschetta with Homemade Ricotta Cheese and Fresh Oregano

by Jennifer

Chickpea Soup with Arugula – adapted from Gourmet magazine

Serves 4 – 6 adults.

  •  1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • 1 Turkish bay leaf or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 2 cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained from 2 15.5-oz. cans (use the remaining chickpeas in a salad or mixed with hummus)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 5 oz. baby arugula
  • freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat;  add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add the bay leaf, salt, broth, chickpeas and black pepper to taste;  cover, lower heat to a simmer, and let cook for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.  Discard bay leaf.

Use a hand-held immersion blender and blend briefly, leaving most of the soup chunky, or remove 1 cup of soup and puree in a blender, then return to the pot.

Stir in the arugula and cook until it wilts.

Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano sprinkled on top.

Bruschetta with Homemade Ricotta Cheese and Fresh Oregano

It is actually pretty easy to make homemade ricotta cheese, and you don’t need to buy anything special if you already have an instant-read thermometer.  Use the left-over ricotta in lasagne, cheesecake, as dessert (or breakfast!) with toasted walnuts and a drizzle of honey, or to make Ricotta Gnocchi….stay tuned!

Serves as many as you like!

Homemade Ricotta Cheese – from Al Capone of Capone Foods, Somerville, MA

  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1 TBS salt
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • Cheesecloth (you can find this in most grocery stores)

Combine the milk, cream and salt in a large, heavy pot set over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer registers 185 degrees.

Add the vinegar and stir for 15 seconds;  let sit on heat for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the pot sit for 15 – 20 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop the curds into a colander lined with cheesecloth set in your sink or over a bowl.

Let the cheese drain for several hours or overnight, until it stops draining (mine stopped draining after 4 hours).  Keeps in an airtight container in the fridge up to 12 days.

For bruschetta:

  • 1 loaf sourdough bread (mine was from Panera), thickly sliced
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Fresh oregano, chopped
  • Olive oil

Pour a very generous amount of olive oil into a 12” skillet, enough to reach at least 1/4” high.  Heat over medium-high heat until quite hot but not smoking;  a drop of water should sizzle immediately.

Fry bread slices until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.  Remove from the pan to a paper-towel lined plate;

smear with a generous amount of ricotta cheese (which gets all soft on the hot fried bread) and sprinkle with oregano.  Serve immediately.

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