Swiss Chard with Cannellini Beans, Saffron and Tomatoes

by Jennifer

Serve this recipe, adapted from one in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, with garlic toast on the side.  The chard seems to melt into the other ingredients for a homey and delicious meal.  Serves 3 – 4.

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced, divided
  • large pinch saffron
  • 2 bunches swiss chard, leaves and some of stems, sliced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 15 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • freshly grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add onions, basil, and saffron, and cook, stirring occasionally,

until onions are tender and golden, about 5 – 7 minutes.

Add swiss chard and cook, covered, over medium-low heat, tossing mixture occasionally,

until both chard leaves and stems are tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in beans and tomatoes to warm them, then sprinkle with cheese and serve.

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Last Minute Minestrone

by Jennifer

I made this soup after realizing I had cranberry beans and a parmesan rind in the freezer, tomatoes on the counter, fresh basil growing in a pot on the back deck, and not a lot of time to make dinner.  And it was good!  Substitute the beans with your favorite (cannellini would be good), if you don’t happen to have cooked cranberry beans lurking in your freezer, too.  Parmesan rinds are a good way to add “umami” to a soup, especially a meatless one.  I served it with Challah, and arugula tossed with extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  • 1 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 medium-large carrots, chopped into uniformly-sized pieces
  • 1 cup Israeli (pearl) couscous, preferably whole wheat
  • 3 cups cooked beans
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (I used Not – Chicken Soup I’d made earlier in the week)
  • parmesan rind
  • 2 cups chopped, seeded tomatoes (slice tomatoes in half, squeeze out seeds, chop)
  • 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Add celery and carrots and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.

Stir in Israeli couscous and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add beans, broth and parmesan rind;  bring soup to a boil, lower heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in tomatoes, basil and pepper.  Serve with freshly grated cheese on top.

Cranberry Bean – Vegetable Soup with Parsley Pesto, Challah

Cranberry Bean – Vegetable Soup with Parsley Pesto, Challah

by Jennifer

Cooking dried beans is so economical and healthy, plus you can freeze beans for future recipes.  This is a great do-ahead;  cook them any time during the week, refrigerate some for tonight, and freeze the rest.  They also make tasty, quick burritos:  take a flour tortilla, scatter beans down the center, sprinkle on some cheese, add some cilantro, roll it up and turn it seam-side down, then nuke it in the microwave for a minute or two, until the cheese melts.  Add some salsa and presto, instant lunch!

 Cranberry Bean – Vegetable Soup with Parsley Pesto – adapted from Cooking Light

Serves 4.

  • 4 cups cooked cranberry beans (see below for details about cooking dried beans)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large leek, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, and rinsed
  • 1 large or 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 small to medium yellow squash, diced
  • 1 14.5-oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Parsley Pesto:

  • 2 TBS pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups Italian parsley
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan

To cook dried beans, soak the beans overnight (at room temperature) in a large bowl filled with water, enough to cover the beans by a couple inches.

Drain and rinse the beans, then put them in pot, cover them with water by an inch or two, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer and cook them for an hour, or until tender.

Drain.  Reserve 4 cups beans for the soup, and freeze the rest for another meal.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the leeks, carrots and garlic;  cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the leeks are tender.

Add the water and beans;  bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.

Add zucchini, squash, tomatoes, and salt, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

While the soup is cooking, make the pesto.

Use a food processor to finely chop the pine nuts and garlic.

Add the parsley and salt and process, stopping to scrape down the sides, until finely chopped.

Add Parmesan and oil and process, stopping to scrape down the sides, until the pesto is finely chopped.

Serve the soup with a good-sized dollop of pesto. Serve with Challah or your favorite bread.

Mediterranean Penne Pasta, Green Salad

By Jennifer

Mediterranean Penne Pasta, Green Salad

Serves 3 – 4 adults, depending on appetite.

  • 13.25 oz whole wheat penne
  • 15.5 oz. can butter beans, rinsed and drained (you can use cannellini beans, too)
  • 1 large or 2-3 small leeks, cut length-wise, then chopped, then rinsed in a strainer
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, cut in half length-wise
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained well, chopped
  • good handful of parsley, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 TBS olive oil, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 oz. queso fresco or ricotta salata cheese, crumbled

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil;  cook penne until al dente according to package directions.

Leeks

Slice leeks lengthwise, then chop

Then rinse leeks well in a fine-meshed sieve

Meanwhile, heat 2 TBS in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and saute the leeks for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic;  when fragrant, add the beans, olives, tomatoes, parsley, and black pepper.  Saute for a few minutes while the pasta finishes cooking.

Sauteeing everything

Reserve a little cooking water before draining the pasta.  Put the pasta back into the pot along with the bean mixture, 2 TBS olive oil and a little pasta cooking water to moisten.  Add the crumbled cheese, tossing to combine.

Serve with a simple green salad dressed with good balsamic vinegar.

Mediterranean Penne Pasta, Green Salad

Hearty Bean and Barley Soup with Rosemary Bread

By Jennifer

Hearty Bean and Barley Soup with Rosemary Bread

The soup is my adaptation of an old either Cooking Light or Eating Well recipe, can’t remember which, but it’s great, and freezes well, too, so if you’ve got a big enough pot, make a double batch and freeze half for another day.

This dinner serves 4 – 6, depending on the size of the people and their appetites.

Hearty Bean and Barley Soup

  • 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 rosemary sprigs, at least a few inches long
  • 2 15.5-oz. cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup barley
  • 5 oz. baby spinach
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly grated Parmesan to serve

Steeping the broth with rosemary, garlic and red pepper

In a large stockpot combine the broth, red pepper, garlic and rosemary, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and let the broth simmer for about 15 minutes.

Mashing one cup of kidney beans

While the broth is simmering, take 1 cup of the beans and mash them in a small bowl, using a fork.  Strain the broth through a fine-meshed sieve into a large bowl or another pot and set aside.

Carrots, celery and onion in the pot

Heat the olive oil in the original stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook for about 4 – 5 minutes, until the onion starts to turn translucent.

Everything but the spinach is in

Add the broth, tomatoes and their juice, barley and the beans, both mashed and whole.  Bring everything to a boil and then reduce to medium-low, simmering for 20 – 25 minutes, until the barley is almost tender.

Adding the spinach

Add the spinach and black pepper to taste, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

Soup is ready

Serve with freshly grated Parmesan on top and with the Rosemary Bread.

Dinner is ready

(Pretty much all soups taste better after they’ve sat a bit;  if you choose to make this soup ahead, and you find at serving time that the barley’s soaked up most of the broth, just add a little broth or water when you reheat it.)