Crockpot Minestrone

Last Updated on Monday, 6 February 2012 12:44 Written by Flax Monday, 6 February 2012 12:44

I really do love using my crockpot in the winter.  Not only do I come home to a warm nourishing meal, I also come home to a house that smells great.  Crockpot cooking is also a much safer way to cook large beans as you don’t have to leave the stove on for long periods of time.  (Maybe it’s my own anxiety, but I’m always afraid that I will forget that the stove is on and accidentally burn down the house.)  Smaller beans, such as the adzuki beans and the mung bean are wonderful summer beans as they require under an hour cooking time.  Larger beans such as the kidney  bean, garbanzo bean,  and of course the fava bean require much longer cooking times and are much more appropriate for the winter where it is appropriate to keep a dish simmering for even an entire day.

Crockpot cooking also happens to provide an excellent solution for “working mom’s” who are sometimes the last ones to walk through the door.  Either prepare the food in the morning before leaving, or if your morning are just too busy, prepare all of the ingredients the night before and then just plug-in the crockpot the following morning.  It’s like magic!  Your family has a  healthy nourishing meal without your even being home!

The recipe below is for minestrone.  Minestrone is a hearty Italian vegetable soup which is essentially a whole meal.  The soup has red kidney beans which are a wonderful winter food as they nourish the kidneys, the organ that should be strengthened in the winter.  Please note how the recipe includes, white, orange, and  green vegetables.  When all  three colors of  vegetables are in a dish, you can be sure that the dishl will be balanced, both with regard to nutrition, as well as with regard to flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 1/4 cup lentils
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 2 parsnips, diced
  • 1 celeriac (celery root), diced
  • 1 broccoli stalk, peeled and diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 4 liters water
  • 1/8 cup brown rice
  • turmeric
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt
  • pepper

Pesto:

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

To prepare the soup, place all of the soup ingredients, other than the salt, in a crockpot.  Set the crockpot to  low and allow to cook for 8-12 hours.

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

Add the salt and the pesto to the soup a few minutes before serving.

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.

Sima Herzfeld Navon is a Nutritional Healer and teaches Healthy Cooking Classes.

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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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