Wednesday, January 20, 2010

An Italian Family Classic
Minaste & Beans

This is a family classic. Something my Italian grandmother made, my dad made and something I made weekly for my mom when she was anemic and didn’t want to eat red meat in order to build up the iron in her body. It worked.

When I brought it in one day for lunch, a co-worker called this a "poor man’s Italian soup." It is not really soup, but I will say it is definitely economically feasible. It is increasingly hard to eat healthy for a low price, but four servings of this dish will cost you a total of about $5.

With only six ingredients it is easy to prepare. It is also extremely nutritious without sacrificing great taste, which we all know healthy dishes do sometimes. The spinach and beans will load you up with energy-providing protein and iron and your body will thank you for the amount of vitamins A, C, E and calcium you are getting with each spoonful.

It is hearty and best served on a cold winter day with buttered pieces of a baguette or semolina bread.

3 to 5 cloves of garlic
(The amount depends on your love of garlic; use a minimum of three average sized cloves – I love garlic, so sometimes I use five.)

2, 10-ounce packages of frozen whole leaf spinach
(I know this isn’t fresh spinach and I know you’re going to cut it as it cooks, so why not buy frozen cut leaf spinach or use the fresh version? You can do that, but it won’t taste the same. This recipe has been through decades of trial and error. I highly recommend sticking with the frozen whole leaf spinach.)

1, 15.5-ounce can of cannellini beans

Olive oil
(My grandmother, Philomena, didn’t keep measurements of ingredients like this one. Following her lead, I don’t either. I use enough olive oil to sauté the garlic; maybe cover the bottom of the pan. I do recommend the following as a caution: you can always add more olive oil, but I’ve never been successful at taking it out once I’ve added too much.)

Black Pepper

Putting It Together:
Peel and chop the cloves of garlic

In a two-quart saucepan, in between low to medium heat, sauté the chopped garlic in olive oil with some salt and black pepper (you can also add crushed red pepper flakes here for some heat)

Add the frozen spinach once the garlic is sautéed. As the spinach cooks, flip the frozen blocks over occasionally and cut the leaves with food scissors. Continue cutting the spinach as it cooks.

Add the cannellini beans once all of the spinach is no longer frozen. Look for movement or simmering in the pot then put it on low heat and stir occasionally for 15 to 20 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Note: This tastes great when it is first cooked and it gets even better as a leftover after all the flavors have spent a night together in the refrigerator.

Bookmark and Share

No comments: