You may have noticed a trend with my previous posts such as the 10-Minute Skillet Pizza and the Vegan Eggplant Lasagna. Perhaps you have become suspicious with my tendency to use a lot of garlic, basil, and oregano in my cooking. (Or you are new to my blog. If so. welcome!)
Here’s why: I am Italian, or rather, half-Italian. Having an Italian parent means I grew up eating and cooking with distinct Italian flair. I can even speak the language! Allow me to demonstrate: Benvenuto! Ciao! Capiche? Spaghettini!
Okay, I don’t really know the language. But you don’t need to speak when your mouth is full of delicious food such as this:
An important thing to keep in mind while cooking Italian food is the quality. Most Italian chefs use few ingredients, allowing the freshness be one of the main flavors in their dishes. Boiling up some dried noodles and opening a jar of marinara sauce may seem authentic to you, but pure-blood Italians would never accept that as a proper spaghetti. Don’t get them started on pasta with ketchup. I’m only half-Italian, and when people say something like, “ketchup or tomato sauce, it’s the same thing,” I become agitated. No, it’s NOT! That’s like saying hazelnuts and Nutella are the same things, because Nutella has hazelnuts in it, right? Wrong! So wrong.
Back to the point, Italians make their pasta and sauces from scratch. Traditionally, the citizens in Italy would grocery shop every morning to buy food for that day only, so their produce is fresh and of high quality when they eat it. Also, they clearly don’t believe in stocking up for the apocalypse. They are just confident like that.
Moral of the storia: Use fresh produce.
Minestrone is a classic Italian soup, usually filled with beans, vegetables, and sometimes noodles. The recipe below is similar to how my grandmother makes it, with a leafy vegetable called escarole.
This was my first time using escarole to I did some research on this crunchy but slightly bitter leafy plant. One serving of contains 30% of the recommended intake of Vitamin C and 4% of the daily value of iron and calcium. Low in calories, rich in fiber, escarole is a perfect addition to any salad or soup. Who says Italian food can’t be healthy?
- 2 onions, peeled and diced
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 10 cups of water
- 2 heads of escarole, washed and sliced into ribbons
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 12 leaves of fresh basil (about two tablespoons), washed and julienned
- 2 19-ounce can of white kidney beans
- 3 sprigs of Italian parsley (about 3 tablespoons), washed and julienned
- 24-ounce can tomato sauce
- Add the oil to the pot and sautee the onions and garlic cloves until golden.
- Add the water and the rest of the ingredients to the pot, cover, and bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat, and simmer for at least 2-3 hours.
- Serve hot with optional cheese and wine, a must-have for every Italian meal.
- Store the cooled soup in glass jars in the fridge.