Category Archives: Italian Food

All About Beans

Beans and rice are 2 of the most frugal, versatile staples in the dry goods pantry.  Everybody has a version because they have been around forever and were accessible to all.   Millions of healthy children have been nourished by this simple fare for generations.  In many cases the working classes did not have the money to eat meat, so beans, bone broths, and other plant foods stood in their place.  I imagine that this was one of the foods that the kids would wince and say, “Maaam, beans again?!”  One way to avoid this is to serve different kinds of beans.  You could serve pinto beans in a soup on Monday, and then re-fry them for Wednesday’s lunch, and then make black beans on Thursday, etc.  If you want to go Italian or American, try white navy beans or kidney beans and prepare chillies and soups that way.

These are our favorite combinations:

White beans:  In Italian salads and soups, in chilli, also use as puree in sneaky recipes.

Black beans:  Black bean soup, in Mexican chilli (with chile ancho powder, yum), refried in manteca with onion as side dish, in salads with salsa-ranch and corn, in bean dip, enfrijoladas (tortillas dipped in pureed beans topped with chicken and cheese), rice and beans.

Pinto beans:  Prepared as side dish/soup with pureed fire roasted tomatoes.  Refried with onion as a side dish.

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Filed under Info Blurbs, Italian Food, Mexican Food, Recipes, Side Dish

Italian Pot Pies

I love this recipe because it is very economical, freezes well, and you have tasty biscuits left over for breakfast sandwiches.  I adapted the recipe from Everyday Food Magazine to be a traditional meal.

Savory Biscuits

3-1/2 c. total of flour – I used 1 c. white and 2-1/2 c. spelt (whole wheat works just as good)

1-1/2 c. whole milk or buttermilk

4 tbsp. melted butter

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking soda

1 c. grated real parmesan cheese

1 tsp. diced fresh rosemary (use Italian seasoning if you don’t have)

(adapted for Italian foodies from Nourishing Traditions, p. 454)

The night before serving this dinner add 1 1/2 c. of whole milk or buttermilk to 2-1/2 c. of whole wheat or spelt flour and 1 c. of white flour.  Leave in a warm place (in oven with pilot light on) for 24 hours.   If you are too lazy for this step (which is pretty easy and really good for you) then you might as well use the link above for the original recipe.

Now that the dough is soaked for maximum digestion, add in the remaining ingredients with a wooden spoon.  Turn out on clean work surface and knead to combine.  Coat rolling pin with unbleached white flour and roll to 3/4 in. thickness.  Cut with glass or cutter into rounds until dough is gone.  (I cut with the ramekins so they were exactly the same size and it worked perfect.)  Now make filling.

Filling

1 tbsp. olive oil or butter

1 med. onion, chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

2 c. other greens like spinach or chard, optional

1 lb. ground beef

2 c. tomato sauce (if you’re buying one, try Rao’s – yum!)

*special equipment – this dish looks really pretty in ramekins, but if you don’t have any and don’t want to buy some, use a square Pyrex.

Heat oil in pan over medium.  Add onion and carrot and optional greens, then season with salt and pepper.  Cook about 5-7 minutes, or until softened.  Add meat and cook until no longer pink.  Heat oven to 450.  Add tomato sauce, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Divide filling among 4 ramekins, top with cut biscuit.  Bake in oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, or until biscuit is lightly browned.

Cooled leftovers can be wrapped in foil and reheated in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

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Filed under Dinner, Italian Food, Recipes