Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A comforting creation

I love to cook. I love the way that making a meal at the end of a stressful day can be so relaxing. I love the way creating something delicious gives such a sense of pride and accomplishment. I rarely cook big meals these days. But on days like this, when the air is crisp and cold, I crave comfort. And tonight, I found comfort in the kitchen.

I decided to make a big pot of homemade minestrone. The entire house smells of it, as I type. When I finish posting this, I plan on fixing myself a big bowl of it along with a big chunk of crusty, multi-grain bread and a nice glass of cabernet. Pure comfort. I thought I'd share the recipe with you folks. Bon appetit!

Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of dry ditalini pasta
6 cups of organic/free-range chicken broth
7 garlic cloves, sliced
1 large yellow onion (or two small onions), roughly chopped
1 cup carrots, diced (I use the baby carrots -- they're easier to prep)
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano
1 14-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 14-oz can petite diced tomatoes
3 large zucchini, chopped
1 large russet potato, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
1 TBSP tomato paste
1 dried or fresh bay leaf

Cook the ditalini pasta until al dente, as directed on package. Drain, rinse then drizzle with olive oil and set aside.
In a large dutch oven, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom (a couple of tablespoons should do), add the garlic and cook just for a minute on medium-high. DON'T burn it!! Reduce heat to medium and add the carrots and onions. Cook until the veggies are soft and the onion is transparent, but not browned. Add the rosemary and oregano and a pinch of salt. Turn the heat to high and add the cannellini beans, diced tomatoes, sweet potato, russet potato and zucchini. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste and bay leaf and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer until all the veggies are tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Right before serving, add the pasta and remove the bay leaf. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese if you like. And serve with crusty bread.

And there you have it... a comforting creation.

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