RECIPE FRIDAY: FAST MINESTRONE

What? Recipe Friday? What’s going on here? Well….I’ve had a rough and busy week…away from the computer. And after thinking it through, I thought Friday might really be the better day for a recipe anyway. Sorry for the confusion; I know you were all so looking forward to what recipe I was posting this week (at least in MY dreams).

With life being so hectic for me recently, as I’m sure it is for many of you on a regular basis, I thought I would put something together that didn’t require chopping, dicing, or much prep work at all. This recipe comes together with canned, frozen, and grocery prepared items. It’s quick and easy, warm on a cold night, healthy, and very comforting. Please note: it’s not salt-free, because I can only find a low-sodium variety of veggie broth. If you have unsalted veggie broth (homemade!), please feel free to substitute that.

FAST MINESTRONE

(Vegan, Nutritarian, Low-Sodium, Sugar Free, Can be Gluten-Free)

Serves 2 – 4 (Depending on serving size)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped green onion or onion of your choice(already chopped from the grocery!)

2 Tablespoons dry Sherry (use real Sherry; cooking sherry contains salt) or other wine or water

2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning (or seasoning of your choice)

16 oz low sodium veggie broth

1 can salt-free pinto beans,  rinsed and drained (other beans will work well, too)

1 can diced salt-free tomatoes

1/2 12 oz bag frozen mixed vegetables

1/4 cup whole wheat elbow macaroni or other pasta (for gluten free, use a gluten free pasta, cooked quinoa or brown rice, or just leave out)

Directions:

Saute onion and herbs in sherry. Add broth, beans and tomatoes. When this mixture comes to a boil, add the frozen veggies. Return to boil and add pasta. Cook 6 mins (or recommended cooking time of pasta). Remove from heat and serve. I like to add a little more sherry to my bowl.

Easy Minestrone

I had eaten most of the minestrone before I remembered to take a photo. Told you it was good!

NOTE: Using a little wine (and my favorite is the dry sherry) to saute the onions, etc., adds an extra flavor dimension. It’s really a good substitute for the flavor imparted by cooking with oil and the alcohol cooks away. Sauteing with vegetable broth or water works fine if you don’t want to use the wine.

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SUPERMARKET FIND!

I tried to post to my blog from my phone yesterday….didn’t work. Maybe it was just that I needed to update the software (which I did last night), but the post never happened. As a result, I’ve modified it a tad and posted for real this time. 

I love garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas). Look what I found yesterday! They’re FROZEN! All I have to do is steam them for 4 minutes.

Today, I used one bag (I bought two) in a salad I’m making for a church picnic tomorrow. The garbanzos almost didn’t make it into the salad….way to easy to keep popping them into my mouth and the taste was way too yummy. To pull the salad together, I used the peanut sauce developed by Chef AJ (check out her book, “Unprocessed”); hopefully this will prove to my friends that vegan cooking can be exceptionally tasty.  And yes, come Wednesday, you’ll be seeing the recipe for the salad with a link to Chef AJ’s out-of-this-world sauce.

About Beans….

I love beans and other legumes; in fact, I had a recent post about lentils, but I promise this post is different. A Facebook friend was trying to make a split pea soup over the weekend. The operative word is “trying.” Those split peas never softened and she wound up throwing the whole pot of peas and other veggies out.

My friend’s fiasco led me to do some investigative work. Beans can be stored for up to one year if stored properly. That means using an airtight container (love those Mason jars!) and keeping them in a cool dark place. Unfortunately there is no way to know how long beans/peas/lentils have been on the store shelves.That we find out when we cook them 😦

Beans, but not peas and lentils, need to be soaked prior to cooking. There are two methods for doing this: overnight and quick soak. Both methods are usually shown in the directions on the bean package (or see the link below). I prefer the overnight soak, but that’s just personal preference. (And if you’re using a pressure cooker, there’s no need to soak at all, even though I still do.) Just be sure to rinse your beans well and check for any little rocks that might have found their way into the package; these are natural foods, after all. Use clean water and soak by whichever method you choose. Then, pour off the soaking water and rinse those beans really well again. This will eliminate a great deal of the gas producing enzymes and make them easier to digest. Put the beans (or unsoaked peas/lentils) in a pot and cover to about an inch above the beans with cold water. Different beans require different cooking times so follow your package instructions. If you need to add water while cooking, use hot water.

About those hard beans….if your beans aren’t old, you may have hard water. I do. Adding a bit of baking soda (no more than 1/4 teaspoon) to your cooking water will help with that. Additionally, do not cook your beans with acid-producing foods, like tomatoes, or with salt. Both will make for hard skins on your beans. Add the acid-producing foods toward the end of the cooking time. If absolutely must have salt, sprinkle it on your beans at the table. You’ll avoid the hard skins and use far less salt than you would otherwise.

Here’s a handy resource for using and storing dried legumes: http://www.usdrybeans.com/recipes/recipe-facts/

Now, go cook up a nice warming pot of beans! (I love to combine a cup or so of cooked beans with about a cup of frozen spinach or collards and a few tablespoons of salsa. Heat it all up together and it’s a quick, delicious meal!)