There are no ready to eat leftovers, and it is nearing the time when when my wooden crate will be refilled with CSA farmbox veggies, to be dealt with reasonably promptly. I am looking for some time to make jam from some beautiful and delicious greeny yellow plums I got on an (unwise, heat-stroke tempting) trip to the Strip district on my lunch hour today. I will also be getting 10 pounds of windfall apples with my farmbox. Since I intend to make the apples into a supply of apple pectin jelly, I will not be wanting to do a lot more cooking until after next weekend , when the the jelly is (I hope) finished. Some other (non-food) things need to get done as well, not leaving much puttering time. I will, however, still be wanting to eat.
Fortunately, I have all the ingredients for a basic Italian-American minestrone, which I intend to eat all week, possibly for lunch and dinner both, so I don't have to think about planning meals. I have been known to eat the same thing for many meals in a row when I am neither busy nor overwhelmed, but just on a bit of a kick about a particularly good thing. I don't really expect to find the sameness boring or annoying before the soup is used up. This is particularly true because I picked up a big lovely loaf of Mediterra farm bread and some nice cheese, along with those plums.
I have been making this minestrone far too long to use a recipe. I don't deviate much, though..this is comfort food, and needs to taste familiar. About a half hour of active time today, and I'm ready to eat for the week. The asterisk shows farmbox ingredients, and the # symbol is for herbs from my porch garden:
a too-large zucchini, chopped*
a large carrot, chopped*
2 fat spring onions, chopped*
1/2 fennel bulb, chopped*
2 medium potatoes peeled and chopped*
1/4 cabbage, shredded*
4 cloves garlic
can of cannelini beans
several handsful dried ziti
large can San Marzano tomatoes (I only have 3 ripe tomatoes of my own so far)
3" parmesan rind
aleppo pepper-a pinch
strip of peppered bacon
bit of olive oil
1 qt of chicken/veal stock-homemade, and really, I must immodestly add, good. You can use a boxed broth, of course, if you haven't got any homemade.
Heat some olive oil in a 5 quart heavy dutch oven , and add the bacon (pancetta's even better, if you have some), cut into thin pieces with scissors, the onions, and a couple of sage leaves. Cook slowly for a few minutes, then add the carrot, fennel, and cabbage, and cook until soft. Add everything else but the pasta, plus enough water to bring it almost to the top of the pan, with maybe an inch to spare. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook slowly for about an hour. Add the pasta, and cook 10-15 minutes more. Serve with some freshly grated parmesan.
This reheats nicely. Of course, the pasta will be mushy, but it is supposed to be; it is a particular sort of soup, not an al dente pasta with sauce. Actually, the pasta dissolves a bit, and thickens the soup. Children seem to like minestrone , or perhaps it is just a good vehicle for playing with your food. I have been known to use alphabet noodles or other silly shaped pasta when doing this for kids. For just me, ziti will do. I like the way the beans get stuck in them, it makes them nice to bite into.
I am going to be needing this bit of comfort-I came home today to discover that my plants had been moved again, and my apartment's porch shrouded in tarps...there are roofers here now, for who knows how long. No little before dinner nap for me, they are still banging on the roof at 7 pm. At least this time, they didn't break my last remaining tomato plant. Given the dark tent over the porch, obliterating all light, I'm going to have to hope they finish fast. Damn all these improvements.