Monthly Archives: January 2010

Pasta e Fagioli

Last weekend, Howard read about winter farmers’ markets in the area. For six weeks, from January 17 through February 27, on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Russell’s Garden Center in Wayland is hosting a Winter Farmers’ Market. Yesterday, we went to check it out. It was fabulous. There were several vendors offering fresh vegetables. Given that it is January, that means salad greens, bitter greens, and stored root vegetables. There were other vendors selling cheese, meat, eggs, honey, bread and other local products like root beer, granola, and preserves. There were at least 15 different vendors. They were scattered throughout the greenhouses, so it was hard to count. The place was crowded with enthusiastic customers. It was exciting to discover this winter shopping option. We’ll be back!

With the refrigerator was empty of leftovers, so I decided to make a hearty soup for lunches during the upcoming week. I still had some not-so-good ribs from earlier in the week, so, initially, I planned to make a soup that would invite the addition of the leftover rib meat. I settled on a pasta e fagioli, where the meat would stand in for the chicken and ham. In the end, we finished the ribs for lunch yesterday, so I ended up with a vegetarian soup instead.

Pasta e Fagioli (Bean and Pasta Soup)
Serves 8 – 10
(Adapted from Italian Classics in One Pot by Anna Teresa Callen)

1 lb dried beans (an assortment of red and white beans)
3 qts. water
¾ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried sage
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp black pepper
1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juice reserved
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
¾ cup pastina (small soup pasta)
Generous handful of Italian parsley, chopped

The beans need to be soaked before starting the soup. You have two choices:

  1. Soak the beans overnight (at least 8 hours). I prefer to use boiling, rather than room temperature, water for soaking.
  2. Place the beans in a large pot. Cover with water by a few inches. Bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat down, and simmer for 1 hour. The beans will not be cooked, they will be “quick-soaked”.

Drain and rinse the soaked beans.

Place the soaked beans in a large soup pot. Add 3 quarts of water, thyme, sage, bay leaves, and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the beans are softened, but not completely tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Add the tomatoes, onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Simmer until the beans are tender, another 30 to 45 minutes.

Turn up the heat to medium, add the pasta, and cook until tender, about 8 minutes.
Discard the bay leaves, and stir in the parsley.

Dinner for Breakfast?

This week has flown by. It was nice to have an extra day off on Monday. It snowed the whole day, so at least my cold January world was pretty. It was a good day for the slow cooker, but the recipe I tried was a dud. Not worth writing about.

The results of the special election turned Tuesday into a disappointing day. I wasn’t enamored with either candidate, but to me, the choice was clear. Unfortunately, the majority didn’t agree with me. At least I was with the majority in Lexington, where I live. I’m still stunned.

I made a tasty dinner on Wednesday: sweet potato, black bean and corn hash. It offered a whiff of summer. We had frozen the corn in August when it was at its best. We ate the hash with a fried egg on top. Why is that whenever a meal includes an egg, it seems like it should be breakfast? Breakfast, dinner, it was good both hot off the stove and again as leftovers.

One more thing… Tonight, for the first time in 20+ years that Howard and I have been together, I craved some ice cream. Howard is an ice cream fiend, but I’m indifferent. Tonight, I really wanted a scoop of ice cream on top of some brownies we have. Wouldn’t you know that we don’t have any! I can’t believe it. Oh, well.

sweet potato, black bean and corn hash
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics by The Moosewood Collective
Serve 6

1 Tbsp olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 or 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into ½ inch pieces
1 jalapeno, mined
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
3 cups corn kernels (thawed if frozen)
1 cup cooked black beans
Dash of Tabasco sauce

1 Tbsp butter
6 eggs

Minced scallions
Chopped cilantro

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet with a lid. Add the onions, and sauté until they start to soften. Stir in the garlic, cook a few second, then add the sweet potatoes. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the jalapeno, coriander, cumin, and salt. Cover and cook another 3 minutes. Add the corn and black beans, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. If the potatoes are too firm, add a little water and cook over low heat until the potatoes are tender. Add salt and Tabasco to taste.

When the hash is ready, in another skillet, melt the butter. Break the eggs into the skillet and fry on both sides to preferred doneness. I like a runny yolk.

Spoon hash onto dinner plates, and top each serving with a fried egg. Sprinkle with scallions and cilantro.