“Courage is knowing what not to fear.”
Tuscan Comfort Food at its Finest!
I was out at a favourite local kitchen store recently when I ran into a woman I hadn’t seen in years. It was great to hear about what she was up to, what schools her kids were thinking about attending and how her life was evolving. I was very touched when she told me how much she enjoyed the recipes and articles from Be Still & Eat each week even though she sheepishly admitted that she was rarely brave enough to try the recipes.
I was crest-fallen.
This honest admission by my old friend shone a light on one of my greatest fears. She made clear to me that I was NOT doing the single task I had set out for myself when I began Be Still & Eat.
The task, besides fulfilling my desire to combine cooking, writing and photography was to convince you, as many of you as humanly possible who don’t already believe it, that creating simply gorgeous AND simply delicious meals is NOT scary, NOT difficult, NOT time-consuming, and most certainly NOT to be avoided.
It was my self-appointed task in fact that I needed as many people as possible to see what a joyful way cooking is or at least can be to spend a bit of time whether that is 20 minutes or 2 hours creating something for and hopefully even with your family.
Looks pretty simple so far no?
Today’s recipe is a super example of easy and great taste coming together in one big pot! This simple Tuscan stew, like many rustic old style recipes, has as many versions as there are cooks making it. I’ve read recipes that were entirely meatless, some made with only the subtle hint of pancetta, and others that were loaded up with spicy Tuscan sausage. I chose to make mine with pork meatballs and I have to say that the results were delectable!
The point is that it is not only healthy, delicious and pretty darned beautiful to look at but it’s also SUPER EASY to create this amazingly comforting Tuscan stew.
So, my old friend, this one is for you… I challenge you to make this simply gorgeous Ribollita tonight! Or tomorrow night… whatever, just make it ok!?!
Menu suggestion: This is really a meal in a bowl but if you’re feeling adventurous you might want to make your own Simple No-Knead Bread to go with it!
Wine Pairing: Resident wine-expert Greg is having a rather exciting time of late, so hopefully he’ll get back to us soon but in the meantime, I again bring you the wonderful and talented JohnCarlton (and yes we do string his name together like that!)
“I think a nice Côte du Rhône would go nicely with the pork.” (ed. note. while he is known for his massive knowledge base, he’s not terribly wordy. It’s a balance thing.)
Côtes du Rhône Villages, Cairanne La Cigalette by Domaine de Dionysos 2014 – $21.95 at LCBO.
Enjoy & Namaste!
- FOR THE MEATBALLS
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 egg
- ½ cup
- ½ small onion, finely diced
- 6-8 stalks fresh thyme stripped of their leaves
- FOR THE SOUP
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 large carrot, finely diced
- 2-3 stalks celery, diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 head kale, cleaned and
roughchopped (spinach will work if you aren't cooking it for too long, as will escarole)
- 6-7 fresh thyme stalks stripped of their leaves
- 3-4 stalks fresh
rosemary,leaves stripped of their stalks and chopped
- 1 tin white kidney beans (cannellini) drained and rinsed
- 1 tin whole tomatoes
- 4 cups good quality chicken broth (I rarely use veg broth as I find it lacking in
- S&P to taste
- 4-6 thick slices hearty crusty bread, lightly oiled and toasted
- Parmigiana cheese, grated optional
- Drizzle good quality olive oil to finish
- Combine the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl and form into whatever size most appeals to you. I prefer a little smaller, more like
bite size, bearing in mind that they will shrink up a bit when cooked.
- Heat oil in a large deep pot and add meatballs being careful not to crowd, you want to brown, not poach!
- Once all the meatballs are browned remove to a separate plate. It is not necessary that they
becooked right through as they will continue to cook in the stew later.
- De-glaze the good bits with a bit of wine or broth, whatever is on hand, you just want to scrape up all the yummy bits left behind while browning the meatballs. You can add what you've scaped up to the meatballs to be added to stew later.
- Add more oil to the pan and add onion, cooking over medium-high heat until they start to become translucent.
- Add carrots,
celeryand garlic, stirring to coat. Cook outfor a few minutes.
- Add kidney beans, whole tomatoes, fresh herbs and chicken broth, stirring occasionally until it comes to a gentle boil.
- Add meatballs and their juices. Cover and reduce heat. Cook until tomatoes begin to break down, about 20-30 minutes.
- Add kale (or other green of choice)
- At this
pointyou can start toasting or grilling your bread.
- Once the green has softened you're
- Top each bowl with a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil, parmigiana cheese and a couple of big hunks of buttery toasted bread.