Minestrone

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 February 2011 01:07 Written by Flax Thursday, 24 February 2011 01:02

This soup is really just a vegetable soup, like any other, except that I add beans, lentils and pasta to it.  Also at the end I add pesto, which to my mind is what then transforms it from a hearty vegetable soup and into a minestrone.

Health-wise, nothing is better than eating vegetables.  In the winter, soup is the ultimate way to be eating them.  Beans, especially red kidney beans are also wonderful winter foods.  They nourish the kidneys, the organ that should be strengthened in the winter.

Please note as well, how the recipe includes, white, orange and  green vegetables.  When you include all  three colors of  vegetables in your meals, you can be sure that they will be balanced both with regard to nutrition and with regard to flavor.

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 1/4 cup lentils
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 2 parsnips, chopped
  • 1 celeriac (celery root), peeled and chopped
  • 1 broccoli stalk, peeled and chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 liters water
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pasta, penne or elbow noodles
  • turmeric
  • salt and pepper

Pesto:

  • 1 bunch basil
  • 2 tbsp roasted pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Oil the bottom of a large soup pot.  Saute the onion until translucent.  Add the carrot, garlic, broccoli stalk, parsnip, and celeriac, and sweat the vegetables for 10 minutes until they are slightly reduced.  Add the water, bring to a boil, and add the tomato, sweet potato, turmeric and pepper. Lower the flame and simmer for 2 hours.

Prepare the pesto by pureeing all of the ingredients together in a food processor until you have a smooth paste .  Set aside.

Ten minutes before serving add the pasta, salt, and the pesto.

Serve hot.  Serves 6-8.

Note:  When beans are cooked with salt the skin doesn’t soften and they remain hard.  It is preferable to add the salt only after they are at least slightly cooked.

Enjoy!

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Stuffed Artichokes

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 09:43 Written by Flax Tuesday, 22 February 2011 05:21

Photo Credit, Gail Saks

This recipe is probably a little more time-consuming than most of my recipes, it is definitely worth it though.  For those of you who would like to make it but time is an issue, I recommend baking the artichokes, with the chokes still in and serving the pesto sauce on the side.  While it is not as good as the recipe below,  it works, and it takes much less time.

In the recipe below I stuff the artichokes with a pesto made with basil, garlic and pine-nuts.  In last weeks blog I discussed the health benefits of artichokes so in this blog I will talk about basil. 

The word basil comes from the Greek word for king – ‘basileum’, either because basil oil was used to anoint the king or because the smell of basil is fit for a king’s house.  Basil is used therapeutically to treat digestive disorders and respiratory infections.  Basil’s ability to help a with stomach aches is due to the antispasmodic qualities.  It is also a decongestant which explains it’s ability to help open the breathing passages.  My favorite use for basil is for its cephalic qualities.  Like rosemary, basil has a clarifying effect on the brain.  I associate this with the mucus decongestant qualities which open up the breathing passages and increases oxygen flow to the brain.

No matter the reason why you chose to use basil, always remember to feel like royalty when you eat it. 

Ingredients:

  • 6 artichokes
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp pine-nuts
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.

Cut off the top third of the artichoke and level the base.  Blanch the artichokes in boiling water for 2-5 minutes.  Remove from the water, pull out the choke and scoop out the thorns with a spoon.  Arrange the artichokes in a dutch oven and pour the water into the bottom to prevent the pot from burning.

Roast the pine nuts for 2-3 minutes until golden.  Place with the remaining ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.  Use a spoon to fill the artichokes with the pesto.  Cover the dutch oven and bake for 1 hour.

Serve warm.

Serves 6.

Enjoy!

Photo Credit:  Gail Saks

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Artichoke Hearts and Fava Bean Stew

Last Updated on Monday, 5 December 2011 12:18 Written by Flax Wednesday, 16 February 2011 03:16

Artichokes are not one of the most attractive vegetables.  They are strange-looking, they have thorns, and most of the vegetable is inedible.  I guess their saving grace is that they are absolutely delicious.  While most of us are willing to put up with the thorny exterior in order to access the sweet heart at the center of the artichoke, surprisingly enough, most of the nutrients are located in the thorny leaves.

Artichokes are a member of the thistle family.  Milk thistle is a purple thorny weed that has wonderful healing properties.  Like the thistle, the artichoke is best known for its ability to cleanse the liver and the gall bladder.   The artichoke stimulates bile production, lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol, detoxifies and fights free radicals.   Artichokes can be help with any digestive disorder, including Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Gallstones.

Since the recipe below uses only the heart of the artichoke, and the leaves have the best of the healing properties, I suggest making a tea from the discarded leaves.  Remove a few of the artichoke’s leaves, add them to a pot of boiling water and simmer for 5 minutes.  Drink hot or cold.

Artichokes and fava beans appear in the Israeli market in the winter and spring.  While I always recommend using fresh food for better flavor as well as for better nutrition, shelling the fava beans and removing the artichoke leaves is extremely time consuming .  For those of you who lack time or child labor, be aware that this dish is extremely quick if you chose to use both the frozen fava beans as well as the frozen artichoke hearts.   Additionally, while the recipe below is vegan, this dish goes very nicely with either lamb or beef.  I might add either shoulder of lamb or meatballs to make a scrumptious main course for Shabbat.  To do so, simply add the meat to the pot along with the rest of the ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • 1/2 bunch coriander
  • 1 tomato
  • olive oil
  • 6 artichokes
  • 1 cup fava beans
  • 1 tsp pickled lemon
  • 1 cup water
  • turmeric
  • salt and pepper

Remove the leaves and the choke of the artichoke.  Put the artichoke hearts in a bowl of water with lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.

Using a food processor, puree the onions, garlic, tomato and herbs.  Oil the bottom of a sauce pan with a tight lid.  Put all of the ingredients into the pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer covered for 5 minutes and then remove the cover.   Cook on a low flame for about 45 minutes or until all the water has boiled out.  Stir occasionally during the cooking  to prevent the bottom of the dish from burning.

Serves 4- 6.

Serve hot on a bed of rice.

Enjoy!

Photo credit:  <p><a href=”http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1539″>Image: xedos4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>

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