Thursday, July 17, 2014

Home Cooking Thursday

From the home I grew up in, anyway.  Simple fare, and these two recipes all or mostly vegetarian.  Boy, does it smell good in my house right now!

First: zucchini and tomatoes.  Fresh zucchini, cooked in crushed tomatoes with finely minced basil from my garden, eaten piping hot with a shower of Parmesan.  Yum!

Next up: pasta e fagioli, Mama D-style.  My Italian grandmother made this soup often; when I asked my aunt for the recipe, she sent me both Grandma's and another version cut out of her hometown newspaper.  Sad to say, mine is based on the newspaper's version!  Onions, garlic and celery sautéed till soft; add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, ditalini pasta, and small white beans; top with rosemary, parsley and sage fresh from the garden; add salt and pepper to taste, simmer till the pasta is done, and Bob's your uncle.  Piece of cake...serve with garlic bread and enjoy the raves of your children.  (Go figure: all three of my persnickety little eaters AND my mostly carnivorous husband actually ask me to make this!)  Don't inquire about a specific recipe: I don't actually have one.  (I can hear my mother laughing from here...after all the years I spent giving her grief about cooking by feel and taste, I've finally started doing it myself for some things.)

A few things I will say:

1) I deliberately make mine thicker than most: more pasta and beans and veggies than broth.  It started as a way to keep the mess down when I had three little ones trying to eat something red with spoons (it was easier for them to eat something with a more pasta-like consistency than a thin soup), and it makes for a more filling meal that way anyway.

2) If you don't have one of these fabulous multi-bladed contraptions, you need one.  Really.

Makes short work of mincing the herbs.  (Have YOU ever successfully convinced a two year-old to eat a large chunk of rosemary or sage?  Me either.)

3) Fresh herbs really make the difference: I rarely make this soup in cold months because dried herbs just don't taste the same.  I grow a pretty fair selection of herbs myself, but in a pinch buy them at the supermarket before using that dried sawdusty stuff.

Mangiar bene, stare bene, my friends.


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