Tuscan Sausage Soup with Shell Pasta and White Beans

Tuscan Sausage Soup  with Shell Pasta and White Beans.

Tuscan Sausage Soup with Shell Pasta and White Beans.

I’ve shared my views previously on the many shapes of pasta and how some shapes are better suited for one kind of dish while other shapes have their own perfect niche in your repertoire of recipes.  One of my absolute favorites to use in soups is shell pasta.  The reason seems obvious–they hold the broth!  Just like a spoon they carry some of the yummy flavor-laden broth to your mouth.

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Anyway, when I first saw this recipe for Tuscan Sausage Soup, packed with “conchiglie”, I was drawn to it.  Conchiglie is the Italian word for shell, so I felt as though it was talking to me.  It also includes white cannellini beans and spinach and is seasoned with garlic, onion and basil.  All the flavors you would expect in a rustic Italian soup such as this one.

The recipe makes a large amount of soup, and can be easily doubled  to feed a hungry crowd, or freeze some for a later date.  I made the recipe as I found it except for using frozen spinach instead of fresh. You could also use kale if you wish.   This is a recipe you need to have in your back pocket for when colder weather arrives and you want something warm and hearty to feed your family.

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TUSCAN SAUSAGE SOUP WITH SHELL PASTA AND WHITE BEANS

YIELD:   6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Italian sausage, bulk or links.  If using links, remove casings.

    Gather together all the ingredients.

    Gather together all the ingredients.

  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth, low sodium preferred
  • 1  14.5 oz. can tomatoes, diced with juice
  • 1  15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1  1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 8  oz. shell pasta, whole wheat, preferred
  • 6 oz. fresh spinach, or 1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, well drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Directions:

1.  Remove casings from sausage if using links.   Brown over medium-high heat in a large stock pot.  Crumble as you brown it.

Brown and crumble the sausage

Brown and crumble the sausage

2.  Add carrots, onion and garlic;  sauté until tender and starting to get a bit golden, about 7 minutes.

Add in the carrots, onion, and garlic.

Add in the carrots, onion, and garlic.

3.  Add chicken broth, tomatoes, beans, pasta and basil.

Add chicken broth, tomatoes, pasta, beans, and basil.

Add chicken broth, tomatoes, pasta, beans, and basil.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover and continue cooking until pasta becomes a bit tender, about 7 minutes.

4.  Stir in spinach and cook until it is just wilted.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

5.  Serve hot garnished with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Here it is.  Looking delicious and tasting just as good as it looks.

Here it is. Looking delicious and tasting just as good as it looks.

SOURCE:   A Couple in the Kitchen

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White Bean and Radish Salad

White Bean and Radish Salad

White Bean and Radish Salad

Summer is for salad, folks.  When the weather turns this warm, I just want a cool, easy to fix salad for my meal.  One that looks good on the plate, tastes good, and is healthy for you are all necessary attributes.  If it is made with readily available staples that I have in my pantry that’s even better.  Well, I’m happy to tell you, this salad fills all those criteria and more.

I put this salad together in about 15 minutes.  Once made I let it chill so it would be nice and cool by dinnertime, and served it with some salmon kabobs, cooked quickly on the grill.

Opening a can of white beans is one of my favorite ways to start cooking.  There are so many ways you can spin them into salads and side dishes.  They can be paired with whatever you have in the fridge or what looks good at the market.   In this case the beans are mixed with fresh radishes, scallions, black olives and lots of fresh parsley in the dressing.  I would also not hesitate to pair them up with some tuna fish, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, some herbs, and a drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil.  When using an ingredient like beans in a salad, you want to combine them with something that offers a contrasting crunch and a pop of color.  Here, we have red, white, black and green.  So pretty when you plate it up!

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This satisfying salad was great served alongside fish, but it will also go well with grilled or roast chicken or steak.  It can even become a completely vegetarian meal just by adding some wedges of hard boiled egg.  Give this one a test run, it might become your new favorite go-to salad.     Its also a great take along if you’re going to a pot-luck picnic over the July 4th weekend.

WHITE BEAN AND RADISH SALAD

Servings:   6 – 8

Ingredients:IMG_4402

  • 2 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained**
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. drained capers
  • 2 cups (packed ) fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 1/4 cup (or more) white vinegar
  • Kosher salt, black pepper
  • 1 bunch radishes, trimmed, cut into thin wedges
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3  (15-oz) cans cannellini -white kidney beans- rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted, quartered

1.  Blend anchovies, oil, capers and 1 cup parsley in a blender until a coarse puree forms.  Transfer to a large bowl, mix in 1/4 cup vinegar, and season with salt and pepper and more vinegar, if desired.

2.  Add radishes, scallions, beans, olives, and remaining 1 cup parsley to bowl and toss to combine.

3.  Cover and chill till ready to serve.  May be made 4 hours ahead.

**Many recipes call for just one or two anchovies to be incorporated in a dish, leaving you to wonder what to do with the remainder of the tin.  I keep a spare ice cube tray available for just such times when I will put 2-3 anchovies with their oil, into each of the depressions, add a small amount of water to cover and freeze them.  Once frozen, place into a zip-top baggie, keep frozen, and use as needed in future recipes.

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SOURCE:  This recipe was derived from Bon Appetit magazine.

Artichoke, Spinach, and White Bean Dip

A neighborhood block party for the Fourth of July.  Everyone brings a pot-luck dish to share. Friends getting together, talking, playing games, kids running around, riding bikes, playing in the sprinkler.  A very typical July 4th celebration.  That’s what we did and perhaps many of you  did the same.  I hope your day was relaxing and enjoyable.

This post is about the appetizer I brought to share.  It got rave reviews, disappeared very quickly, and was very easy to make.  I served it with a variety of crackers, and toasted pita chips for dipping.  I’ve had this kind of dip on previous occasions, and though I like it very much I limit myself to just a few tastes because I know it is usually high in fat and calories.  This version, however, cuts the calories way back, by reducing the amount of cheese(es) in it, and including white beans processed with the base ingredients to give thickness without fat.

So in this version you have the sharpness of Romano cheese, the tang of lemon juice, and the bite of red pepper, incorporated into a base made smooth by mayonnaise (the only fat) and pureed white beans.  To me this is the real star of the show, although the spinach and artichokes get all the attention.   This is when I say,  Oh, Yeah!  Bring it on!    You’ll be happy to know that a 1/4 cup serving contains only 87 calories,  4.9 g.carb, and 5.4 g. fat.

ARTICHOKE, SPINACH, AND WHITE BEAN DIP

YIELD:  about 3 cups;  serves 12 or more

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup ( 1 ounce) grated pecorino Romano cheese  (purchased already grated at the grocery store.)
  • 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  (15 oz.) can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained.  Quarter and chop them.
  • 1 (9 0z. ) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry.
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 1-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Place Romano cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, red pepper, minced garlic, and white beans in a food processor, and process until smooth.  Spoon into a medium bowl.  Stir in the artichokes and spinach.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese.
    Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly and brown.  Serve warm with crackers or chips for dipping.

SOURCE:  Cooking Light Magazine