Skip to main content

Tuscan Bean Soup with Chicken, Sausage & Kale

I’m always inspired by food when I travel and Tuscany has been my focus since I’ve been home. This soup is my combination of 2 memorable dishes in Tuscany… Dario’s beans & a bowl of ribollita for lunch on the street in Florence.

Dinner with Dario Cecchini in Panzano was the most memorable experience. He’s impressive being an 8th generation butcher with a big personality. His restaurants are fun & they are an experience… not just a meal. Surprisingly it wasn’t the 5 courses of meat I couldn’t forget … it was the beans! Here’s how it starts:

– Small bowl with some Tuscan salt & herbs (his blend**)
– Generous drizzle of olive oil
– Splash of red wine vinegar

This is the dipping vehicle for your carrots & raw vegetables. Then you find the bowl of bread and decide what the hell – dip it! Just when you think your bowl can do no more… a big ladle of white beans & broth are ladled into the remaining oil/vinegar/salt bowl.

Divine. That’s all the inspiration I need!

Buon appetito!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 stalks celery – diced
  • 4 carrots – peeled & diced
  • 2 leeks – cleaned, rinsed and cut into ½ moons
  • ½ yellow onion – diced
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage – natural sausage casing removed
  • 4 chicken thighs – skin-on & bone-in
  • 1 cup Pinot Grigio wine
  • 8 -10 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bag Tuscan kale – washed
  • 2 cans cannellini beans – rinsed
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS

Remove the sausage from DCW Casing and tear it by hand into bite-size pieces. Heat 1 Tbs. of the olive oil in a 4- or 5-quart heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate, leaving any rendered fat in the pot.

In the same pot, add the chicken thighs and sear until brown on all sides. Transfer to the same plate as the sausage. Set aside for later.

Add 1 Tbs. olive oil to the pot, increase the heat to medium high, and add the onion, celery, carrot, leeks, onion, crushed red pepper and garlic . Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Be sure to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the white wine and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat.

When the broth reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium and add the sausage & chicken along with any collected juices. Cook for 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken and pull the meat from the bone. Discard the skin & bones. Add the chicken meat back to the pot with the drained & rinsed beans.

Stir in the kale, adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, and simmer until the kale is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper & add the vinegar.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil & a splash of red wine vinegar. Crusty bread is a must!

Healthy & Hearty Spaghetti with Meatballs

I’ve been working a lot and traveling a lot the past few months, I tried the keto diet, look here the info https://reportshealthcare.com/20070/keto-pure-diet/.  Meaning I’ve been eating a lot of fabulous foods and treating myself to things I would typically pass up at home. Pastries. Potatoes. Pasta. Time to get back to the healthy meals. Luckily, this meal feels like a treat.

I admit, I was skeptical these meatballs from the yummy Rocco Dispirito would actually be satisfying. Considering he reduced the calories from 1200 to 350, the meatballs are surprisingly moist and tender, full of flavor and the tomato sauce is rich and hearty. I’m sure the original version of his Mama’s Meatballs are delicious… but I’ll take these and feel less guilty about dessert.

The weirdest ingredient in this recipe is the puffed kamut. It’s a brilliant replacement for breadcrumbs… and I’m thinking it could make a cool replacement in rice krispy treats… but I’ll tackle that later. You can find it at Whole Foods, Sprouts or most any health food store. I prefer to blitz it in food processor into coarse crumbs for this recipe.

If you really want to take this to the ultimate in healthy meals… skip the pasta and substitute spaghetti squash, one of my favorites.

Healthy & Hearty Spaghetti with Meatballs

INGREDIENTS

  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced small
  • dried red chili flakes
  • 1 cup reduced sodium chicken stock
  • 28 ounce can Cento tomato puree
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano
  • 5-6 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 medium eggplant (halved lengthwise)
  • salt & pepper
  • 6 ozs ground turkey breast
  • 4 ozs lean ground beef (93/7)
  • 2 ozs lean ground pork
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 oz parmigiano-reggiano, grated
  • 2 cups puffed kamut cereal (Arrowhead brand)
  • 6 ozs spaghetti (kamut or brown rice)

DIRECTIONS

Make the sauce: In a large saucepan heat olive oil. Add half the garlic and half the onion and a pinch of red chili flakes and cook over medium heat until tender, about 2 minutes. Add half the chicken stock, tomato puree, diced tomatoes & herbs. Simmer over low heat for an hour.

Make the eggplant puree: Preheat the broiler. Meanwhile, using the tip of a knife, score the eggplant deeply and sprinkle with salt. Place the eggplant cut-side up and cook under the broiler until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the broiler and place on a plate and microwave on high until tender, about 3 minutes. Let cool.

Make the meatballs: In a large bowl, add the meats and mix gently to incorporate. Place the egg white, ¼ cup chicken stock, ¼ cup onion, 1 clove garlic and parsley in a blender and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the mixture to the bowl with the meats, add the cheese and crumble the kamut in with your fingers. Sprinkle with salt and chili flakes.

Scoop the eggplant pulp out of its skin and let any excess water drip off. Measure out 1/2 cup of the pulp, and then lightly chop and add to the meat mixture, folding in to incorporate. Make each meatball a heaping tablespoon and form into balls with your hands. Should make around 16 meatballs.

Heat a few teaspoons olive oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add half of the meatballs and cook until lightly browned on one side, about 1 minute. Roll the meatballs on the other side and brown evenly, about 2 minutes. Remove the browned meatballs from the pan and add more olive oil if needed. Repeat the browning with the rest of the meatballs. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer very slowly for an hour.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a simmer and then add 1 tablespoon of salt. Drop the pasta in the water and cook per manufacturer’s instructions. Place 4 meatballs each on 4 plates, and then add the spaghetti to the remaining sauce in the pan with 1/2 cup of the pasta water and cook until the sauce holds well on the pasta. Evenly distribute the pasta to each of the 4 plates.

Cannelloni

Making this dish is a very nostalgic process for me. The smell of it baking takes me right back to my mom’s kitchen.

This was never a weeknight dish but rather a very special Sunday dinner. Last year it was our big Christmas Eve meal and I wouldn’t be upset if we adopted it as an annual tradition. But with 3 daughters who love to cook, my parents are forced to be guinea pigs to our ever evolving holiday menus.

Making this dish is a process, but so worth every effort in the end. So go to the trouble and make a double batch (it freezes beautifully). To make is easier, the filling and the Salsa Di Pomodori can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for a few days.

Saute the beef & spinach filling. Set aside until ready to prepare the rolls. If making ahead don’t add eggs until ready to use.

Classic Besciamella sauce. Should be made right before you are ready to prepare the rolls.

Salsa Di Pomodori (red sauce). This can be made up to 2 days ahead. It’s best when cooked at least 2 hours.

Roll a tablespoon of filling for each roll and line up snuggly in a 9×13 pan.

Top the rolls with the bechamel sauce first.

Then cover with the red sauce and try not to mix the sauces. Top with parmesan cheese. They can be frozen at this point.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, or until bubbly. If made ahead, bring to room temperature before baking (about an hour).

INGREDIENTS

Meat filling:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 10oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 pound ground round
  • 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • salt and pepper

Heat oil, add onion and garlic and saute until limp but not brown. Add ground round and brown. Drain off fat. Add spinach and cook until moisture is gone. Remove from heat and add, cheese, cream, eggs, oregano, salt and pepper.

Salsa Di Pomodori (red sauce)

  • 2 tablespons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 28 ounce can whole Italian style tomatoes, crushed by hand (I prefer Cento brand)
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pepper, to taste

Heat oil, saute onions, garlic, add remaining ingredients and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours, partially covered. May need to add water if it gets to thick.

Besciamella

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Melt butter, add flour, cook stirring constantly. Pour in milk and add cream slowly and add cream slowly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until thick. Add salt and set aside.

DIRECTIONS

To sssemble:

Cook lasagna noodles according to box. Drain, rinse and lay on towel. Let cool slightly and cut each noodle in half.

Pour a thin layer of salsa di pomodori into baking dish. Fill each 1/2 lasagna noodle with 1 tablespoon of meat filling. Roll over and place seam side down in baking dish. Lay side to side in one layer. Spoon cream sauce on top then salsa di pomodori over that. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 375 until bubbly. let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

https://www.barbieinablender.org