Category Archives: Beans and Legumes

Escarole, Beans and Pork Spareribs

Hi Everyone,

We had very odd weekend weather here in the Northeast this weekend. It was sunny and 60 degrees on Saturday and then it was 30 degrees and snowing on Sunday. It made you want to have ice cream in the park one day and then the next day crave warm comfort food.

Well, I chose one of my favorite comfort foods for Sunday and the cold weather and it was an Italian peasant dish that my mother used to make quite a lot when I was a child. It’s “escarole and beans” and you have probably tried it or have at least seen the dish on an Italian restaurant menu.

The escarole is wilted in chicken stock and garlic and cannellini beans are added with lots of grated cheese. It can be made a little spicy with the addition of red pepper. My mother used to make this dish quite often and on occasion added pork spareribs.

I found the most beautiful pork spareribs at my local butcher and this dish came to mind immediately. And the escarole I bought was beautiful and organic and I was all set. I had all the other ingredients I needed in my pantry at home.

ST LOUIS PORK SPARERIBS

It turned out to be a great Sunday meal and I served it with grilled olive bread (ciabatta would be perfect as well). I suggest you give this recipe a try on a cold day.

Escarole and Beans with Pork Spareribs – 4 servings

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb. pork spareribs (St Louis or country style)
  • 1 quart of chicken stock (homemade or low sodium boxed)
  • 1 medium yellow onion – diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic -minced
  • 2-4 tbsp olive oil– (enough to cover the bottom of the pot).
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 lbs. of escarole or 2 medium heads (it will shrink)
  • 2 (14 oz) cans of cannellini beans (I prefer low sodium) – drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper and garlic powder to taste
  • 1/8 tsp of red pepper flakes or Calabrian chili paste (optional)
  • Parmesan rind (optional)

Directions:

In a large pot, coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil and brown the spareribs.  Add chopped onions and sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes or Calabrian chili paste plus a pinch of salt and sauté for a minute or two.

Add the tomato paste and sauté or toast it for a minute in the pan before mixing it well with the garlic.

Add the broth, cheese rind (if using), garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook on medium heat (partially covered) for 45 minutes to 1 hour to braise and tenderize the spareribs.

In the meantime, thoroughly wash the escarole (it can be very dirty and I wash it twice in water and baking soda than a good rinse). Cut the escarole into large pieces.

Add the escarole to the broth and cook until the escarole wilts to your liking (some like it with a little crunch some like it completely soft- your choice). Add another pinch of salt.

Stir in the beans (1 ½ cans whole and ½ can mashed) * you can mash by hand or in the food processor.

Simmer for 10-15 minutes

If extra liquid is needed, add a little more broth and let the flavors blend for a few minutes stovetop. Adjust seasonings.

Serve with a drizzle of more olive oil over each serving, add grated cheese and more red pepper flakes (optional).

In addition, serve this with a little grated cheese and grilled ciabatta bread to dunk in the broth.

Enjoy every bite…

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

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Welcome year 2022!

Hi Everyone,

I hope you all had a wonderful and safe New Year’s Eve and a relaxing New Year’s Day! I pray that this year brings us to the end of the pandemic and brings us all good health, happiness, prosperity, and our best year ever….

Bob and I had a quiet New Year’s Eve and I prepared a mini tablescape reminiscent of the days when we had entertained large groups of family and friends to ring in the new year and say goodbye to the old.

I had a great deal of fun taking out the china, the plates, and noisemakers and of course, we had to have a few 2022 items thrown in the mix.

I added something NEW to my place setting this year and they are small signs or sayings of gratitude that I had ordered for Thanksgiving and at the last minute decided they didn’t look right with the Thanksgiving china pattern that I chose.

I thought these signs made a great addition to the place settings tonight and added that special touch of gratitude I wanted to express.

The sayings of Gratitude are * Thankful * Gather * Grateful * Blessed —-

These signs made it festive and added a special touch to the other additions to the table.

To start, a simple centerpiece with a clock to countdown to 2022 and some party favors.

We started our evening with some hors d’oeuvres. I originally planned on making them from scratch but last-minute ordered frozen hors d’oeuvres and they were a very good fill-in when you don’t want to stand in the kitchen cooking all day.

We chose a great assortment of mini-filled pies filled with sauteed mushrooms, roasted chicken and a three cheese blend, black bean empanadas, spanakopita, pepperoni bites, and tikka masala samosas.

We were full after the appetizers but we never fail to continue the Italian tradition for Good Luck in the New Year of eating lentils and some sort of pork product. Pigs symbolized prosperity so my family would eat “cotechino” which is the traditional pork product for this holiday.

Cotechino is an Italian, large pork sausage requiring slow cooking. Usually, it is simmered at low heat for several hours. It is made from pork, lard, and other spices but was never a favorite of mine because it is very fatty.

This is what cotechino looks like if you have ever seen it in a grocery store or Italian butcher and wondered what it was.

New Year Traditions Italy
Courtesy of google.com

As I said, not a favorite of mine so I substitute with another pork sausage and that is a pork sausage made with added broccoli rabe and I served it over sauteed broccoli rabe with lots of garlic and olive oil.

You can also add the sausage to the lentils for a complete meal in one dish.

Lentils are supposed to bring good luck and prosperity so we had our traditional lentils and honestly, I love this dish so much, I could easily eat it every day (recipe below).

The shape of lentils represents a coin and they say that each lentil is a penny so the more you eat the more money comes your way. In addition, I added spinach which also brings good luck and prosperity because it is the green color of money.

I made lentils this year with another pork product for extra good luck and that is pancetta made from the pork belly.

Not to be confused with prosciutto which is made from the hind leg. Pancetta is similar to bacon but is not smoked.

We finished dinner with one of our favorite desserts (usually we have mini Italian pastries on New Year’s Eve but we didn’t go to the bakery this year).

My favorite dessert is creme brulee with a fabulous custard base topped with a crusty layer of hardened caramelized sugar and topped with fresh fruit.

Bob and I watched the ball drop in Times Square in NY and then at the stroke of midnight we kept another Italian tradition alive and we ate 12 grapes, one for each month of the year. (sorry no pic).

The reason behind this is that it requires a lot of willpower to save some grapes from the harvest until New Year’s Eve. When you eat the grapes, you will be wise and frugal with your newfound wealth.

When the clock strikes midnight, you should have a glass of sparkling wine in hand and we always drink Italian prosecco to ring in the new year. The LaMarca brand is our favorite prosecco.

As is the custom in many other places, it is traditional to seal the countdown to midnight with a kiss (or a double cheek kiss for friends) and to wish them all the best for the new year.

There are a few other traditions that we followed.

On New Year’s Day, Italians make sure they start the new year right by having some money in their pocket or wallet. This tradition is based on superstition.

Apparently, if you leave home with money in your pocket on the first day of the year, you’ll always have something in your pocket to spend every day of the year. My grandmother would give each of her grandchildren five dollars on New Year’s Eve to carry in our wallets. She wanted to make sure we had enough cash in our wallets at all times.

I know it sounds odd but even today after all the years that have passed since grandma gave us cash on New Year’s Eve, I always tuck the New Year’s Eve money in a compartment in my wallet and I call it the “emergency fund”. I make sure Bob and my son still have extra cash in a compartment in their wallet for their emergency fund and we carry it for the entire year. Some family traditions just don’t go away even after years and years.

The next tradition that we followed when my grandmother was alive was to ” Frighten away spiteful spirits”.

Some Italian families have fireworks for this reason (especially true in Naples, Italy where my maternal side is from). Instead of fireworks, we went out into the streets in front of our homes banging pots and pans with wooden spoons to scare away evil and spiteful spirits that were supposed to be lurking in the shadows during the transition from the old year to the new year.

As children, we loved to just make lots of noise and not get in any trouble for 20 minutes or so (it helped that grandma was front and center)….ahh, the good old days.

The last tradition that was introduced to us as children by my grandmother was to wear red undies on New Year’s Eve to bring good luck to you for the full year to come.

I had to research the reason behind this (courtesy of google) because grandma stopped at “it brings good luck”.

“Lots of market stalls and shops in Italy sell red underwear in the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Apparently, in order to get the most out of this good fortune, Italians only wear red underwear on December 31st.”

“For the red underwear to be really lucky, it should only be worn on NYE and thrown out the next day. The reason behind this New Year’s tradition dates back to the ancient Romans who wore red tunics during battle which represented blood and strength and instilled fear in their enemies”.

New Year Traditions Italy
Courtesy of google

And on that note, I am going to leave you guessing if Bob and I wore red underwear this year.

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I know there are so many more Italian traditions but these are the traditions that my family practiced.

Have a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous Year with all the Good Fortune your heart can hold…. and thank you for being so supportive of my blog all year. I love sharing recipes, stories, and life’s ups and downs with you. Enjoy the lentil recipe…

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Lentils

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 medium red onion, chopped

3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

1 (14 ½ oz.) can of diced tomatoes with their juices

1 bag of lentils (usually 16 oz.)

8 cups low sodium chicken broth (2 boxes) or homemade broth

4- 6 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 cup grated cheese

Cooks Note: I always make lentil soup when I have the bone of a spiral ham. You could use a ham hock, bacon, pancetta or skip this ingredient entirely.

Directions:

  • Sort lentils for any stones, rinse with cold water – set aside
  • Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat
  • Add the red onion, celery and carrots and a pinch of salt to sweat the vegetables.
  • After 2-3 minutes add the garlic and pinch of red pepper and sauté until all the vegetables are tender, about 5-8 minutes
  • Add the tomatoes with their juices
  • Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes
  • Add the lentils and mix well to coat. Sauté 1-2 minutes
  • Add the broth, bay leaf, thyme springs, and ham bone, if using
  • Bring to a boil over high heat
  • Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes
  • Remove the ham bone; when cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone. Discard the bone; dice the meat and return to the soup. Discard the bay leaf
  • Add salt and pepper and taste for seasonings
  • When serving, you can drizzle soup with a little olive oil and serve with grated cheese

 Cook’s Note– salt the lentils at the end of cooking, rather than the beginning, so that they don’t remain hard.

I **************************

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Please ask your family and friends to “follow”, “like” and “share” DishingwithDiane.com 

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post…

Also, continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

Cauliflower Rice Veggie Stir Fry & Black Bean Stuffed Peppers …

Hi Everyone,

This recipe is dedicated to one of my health care providers – Michael C. who always brightens my day whenever we have the opportunity to speak.

Hope you are all well…

Today I wanted to share with you a new recipe for stuffed peppers. I know that I have posted recipes for traditional stuffed peppers with ground meat and a lighter version with beans, rice and cheese (the links for those recipes will be at the end of the post); but today I have another new version – “Stuffed Peppers with Cauliflower Rice Stir Fry”, veggies and black beans.

Cauliflower rice has become so popular in the last couple of years and I have made Cauliflower Tots and General Tso’s Cauliflower in the past (find recipes in search box) but I am always experimenting to create new recipes, and this recipe can be listed under “vegetarian and heart healthy”.

I recently placed an Instacart order from Costco and noticed that they were selling a Cauliflower stir fry (Tattooed chef brand) with veggies (peppers, peas & corn) included so I thought I would give it a try. My original idea was to just add some scrambled eggs and some lite soy sauce to make fried rice.

Then I bought the most beautiful organic bell peppers and the idea quickly changed to cauliflower stir fry stuffed peppers. I added some black beans for protein and a new recipe was born. I made a large batch of filling and used the extra for a side dish for another night during the week.

Follow the recipe below with step-by-step instructions and happy cooking…

(Don’t forget previous stuffed pepper recipes are listed below).

Cauliflower Rice Veggie Stir Fry with Black Beans Stuffed Peppers

Let’s Get Started ……….

INGREDIENTS:

2 bags of frozen cauliflower stir fry (from freezer to skillet)- no need to thaw & this package has veggies included.

You can add any combination of extra vegetables that you like, just cut them small to fit in the pepper cavity.

COOKS NOTE: you can also rice fresh cauliflower florets in the food processor

6 bell peppers

1 medium yellow onion

3-4 cloves of garlic

1 can (14 oz.) of low sodium black beans – rinsed & drained

1 can (14 oz.) of no salt added tomato sauce

1 can of cherry tomatoes with juice (optional)

COOKS NOTE: the canned tomatoes can be purchased at an Italian pork store or online at Eataly

1 tbsp. tomato paste

Oregano- 4 fresh sprigs or ¾ Tbsp. ground (remember to rub ground spices through your fingertips when adding to a dish to release the oils and flavor).

½ cup grated cheese (I use Locatelli Romano)

Garlic powder – ½ tsp

Fresh basil chiffonade

Mozzarella cheese

Olive oil – 3 Tbsp.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Prepare the peppers by cleaning them well and then cutting the tops off and scooping out the ribs and seeds.

Dice the pepper tops into small dice and set aside.

I par boil the peppers for 7-10 minutes in boiling water- (do not make them too soft, they will still be cooked in the oven). Drain the peppers and set aside.

In a large skillet or sauté pan, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil on medium heat until hot. Add the garlic and sauté until lightly golden.

,

Add the onions and sauté for a 3-4 minutes more…. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder & sauté for another minute.

Add the diced peppers and cook for 4-5 minutes until the peppers soften.

Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste and the can of cherry tomatoes (if using).

Mix well, and bring to a simmer stirring occasionally for approx… 10 minutes.

Add the black beans, oregano and basil and mix well.

Add the frozen cauliflower stir fry and heat through for approx. 5-8 minutes. (use the back of a wooden spoon to break up the cauliflower).

Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese and taste for seasoning- more salt, pepper or spices might be needed to your taste.

Meanwhile spray a 9 X 13 glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Spread a thin layer of the cooked filling on the bottom of the pan (this will give the peppers a base so they don’t flop over).

COOKS NOTE: IF peppers fall over — before filling slice a small amount of pepper off the bumpy bottoms to make them stand up.

Place a small amount of mozzarella cheese in the bottom of each pepper.

Now with a large spoon fill the hollow peppers and pack as much filling as you can and top with some grated cheese. (Any extra stuffing can be added to the baking dish).

Now top the peppers with additional mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350 uncovered for 15 minutes until the peppers are cooked through and the cheese is melted.

COOKS NOTE -If you want a crispy cheese topping, pop in the broiler for 1-2 minutes but watch the pan so the cheese doesn’t burn.

To serve, garnish with a little extra grated cheese and the extra filling can be served on the side or saved for another side dish for another meal… Enjoy

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Previous stuffed pepper recipes…..

https://dishingwithdiane.com/2015/09/20/stuffed-peppers/

https://dishingwithdiane.com/2017/09/08/stuffed-peppers-with-rice-and-beans/

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Please ask your family and friends to “follow”, “like” and “share” DishingwithDiane.com  .

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post…

Also, continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

Happy New Year 2016 – Lentil Soup

2015-01-01 20.58.20- replace soup

(Click on PHOTO to enlarge and then hit the back arrow to return to original size).

Hi Everyone,

From my family to yours, have a very Happy, Healthy New Year.

All the best to you in 2016.

It is customary in many countries around the world to eat “Good Luck” foods to ring in the New Year.

On New Year’s Day in the Italian tradition it is customary to eat Lentils and Cotechino Sausage. The lentils, because they are shaped like little coins symbolize good fortune and prosperity. The cotechino, is a big pork sausage that’s boiled over low heat for about four hours before serving. When sliced, the pieces also look like coins and is meant to give wealth in the new year. My grandmother would also add spinach to the lentils because it is green and resembles the color of money.

So to keep with tradition, I wanted to share my recipes for Lentils with you. 

2015-01-01 20.58.20- replace soup

Diane’s Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 medium red onion, chopped

3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

1 (14 ½ oz.) can of diced tomatoes with their juices

1 tbsp. tomato paste

1 bag of lentils (1 bag usually equals 1 ¼ cups)

8 cups low sodium chicken broth (2 boxes) or homemade broth

4- 6 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 cup grated cheese

Cooks Note: I always make lentil soup when I have the bone of a spiral ham. You could use a ham hock or skip this ingredient entirely

I have also used a 1/2 lb. of chopped bacon or pancetta sautéed in a small amount of oil as the first step.

Directions:

  • Sort lentils for any stones, rinse with cold water – set aside
  • Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat
  • (sauté bacon or pancetta if using) or add the ham bone.
  • Add the red onion, celery and carrots and a pinch of salt to sweat the vegetables.
  • After 2-3 minutes add the garlic, tomato paste and pinch of red pepper and sauté until all the vegetables are tender, about 5-8 minutes
  • Add the tomatoes with their juices
  • Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes
  • Add the lentils and mix well to coat. Sauté 1-2 minutes
  • Add the broth, bay leaf, thyme springs, and ham bone, if using
  • Bring to a boil over high heat
  • Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes
  • Remove the ham bone; when cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone. Discard the bone; dice the meat and return to the soup. Discard the bay leaf
  • Add salt and pepper and taste for seasonings
  • When serving, you can drizzle soup with a little olive oil and serve with grated cheese

 Cooks Note- salt the lentils at the end of cooking, rather than the beginning, so that they don’t remain hard.

 I hope you try this recipe and it brings you and your loved ones,

good fortune in 2016 !

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

Please ask your family and friends to follow and share DishingwithDiane.com either on facebook or sign up for emails directly from the web page.

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post…

And please continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.