A colourful, mouth-watering Minestrone

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I love weekends filled with cooking. The house smells fantastic, the fridge and freezer fill up with beautiful meals that I’ll be enjoying in the following weeks. A spiced peach jam, lentil and eggplant sheperds pie, spanish lentil soup, clam and corn chowder, vichyssoise and this delicious minestrone. If I had more time, I’d document all I’ve done but sometimes you just want to get on with it!!! I’ll be running full steam ahead over the next weeks, I will start canning and pickling on top of cooking comfort food we all crave once the wearher cools. I can’t wait!

Minestrone has a flexible ingredient list according to what you have on hand and what’s seasonal. It checks all the boxes for me at the end of summer. Fresh ingredients, warmth and a hit of flavour with all those fragrant herbs from the garden. So any ingredient you see in this list can be switched to what suits your tastes and what you’ve picked up at the market 🙂

Ingredients

2-3 chipolata sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 cup fresh roma beans

1 of each green and yellow zuchini, quartered

1 onion, diced

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 bunch kale, shredded

1 large tomato, diced

200-300 gr. fusilli or similar pasta

Sprigs of each fresh oregano and thyme

1 teaspoon each chili flakes and fennel seeds, crushed

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil for cooking

1 litre chicken stock

Parmesan shavings and basil to garnish

Instructions

Heat a little olive oil in a large casserole over medium heat, add onions and sweat for a few minutes then add garlic until fragrant. Add sausage pieces then zucchini, stirring frm time to time. Whe sausage starts to colour add tomatoes and beans. Stir to combine and continue to cook until tomatoes start blistering, add stock, herbs, spices and season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to come to a slow simmer, then add kale and pasta and cook for 20-30 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente. Serve in large soup bowl topped with parmesan and granish with basil. Makes 4-6 portions, freezes for up to a month and keeps n the refrigerator for up to a week. Enjoy!

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Eggplant ragù with creamy polenta, chasing rainbows, beautiful sunsets and Bittersweet moments

SCN_0001The end of summer is usually a time in the season that I love. Fresh fruits and veggies abound, evenings get cooler. Cozy evenings call for warm and comforting dishes and a better nights sleep for being more comfortable! This year, because of our weird summer, it feels like I’ve been cheated out of this. I’m enjoying the cool evenings and the market, but I’m not quite prepared to let go of the summer. Where were the heat waves, most of all, who stole our sun??? Cross my fingers that autumn isn’t dismal and grey… On a more positive note, after a big rainfall last week, a beautiful rainbow appeared. I always wonder if there is a pot of gold at the end of it…! 🙂 We’ve also had some beautiful sunsets recently, take a look!

I’m slowly edging towards filling and comforting foods. Eggplant can be so boring, and totally spectacular. It all depends on how you cook it, olive oil and garlic LOVE eggplant. A very simple and delicious side is to sauté some garlic in olive oil then add cubed eggplant. Allow the eggplant to caramelize , stir, continue until golden brown. Delicious! This ragù is a version of that, with eggplant and tomatoes to finish it off. It’s beautiful with polenta but would also do nicely with some fresh Pappardelle topped with flaked Parmesan and a light drizzle of olive oil. Happy cooking! 🙂

RECIPE

1 medium size Fond May eggplant (or small eggplant), cubed

1 custard marrow, quartered and sliced

1 shallot, thinly sliced

3 Roma tomatoes, cubed

2 large cloves garlic, crushed and sliced

1 sprig fresh oregano, thyme and basil, shredded, keeping top of basil for garnish

1/2 cup polenta

2 cups broth

Parmesan

Salt & pepper to taste

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INSTRUCTIONS

Bring broth to a boil, add polenta, whisking constantly. Continue to stir regularly, meanwhile heat a skillet on medium heat. Add oil to coat, add garlic and shallot, stir occasionally until golden. Add marrow, eggplant and herbs, stir to blend. Allow to caramelize, stirring only to distribute colour evenly, When well browned add tomatoes and stir to coat. Allow to reduce lightly, remove from heat. Verify polenta is cooked, then plate, coating polenta with ragù. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and garnish with basil. Makes 2 portions. Both polenta and ragù can be frozen separately. Enjoy!

 

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