It’s been a little while since I did any weekend finds, hasn’t it? I figured I’d give you some posts you could sink your teeth into. But hey, sometimes you can sink your teeth into a list of cool stuff I found, right? Right. Halloween is around the corner (like, wow, two weeks away already). And that, to me, means that we are in the thick of fall, which in turn means we should be making all things squash. I have my old go to’s (like tofu and delicata with miso and molasses, root veggies with miso and harissa) but it’s always fun discovering new ones. Here are some I’m itching to try.
1. Pumpkin Muffins
I’m not sure what about these pumpkin muffins makes me feel like they’ll be different from pumpkin muffins I’ve made in the past – maybe it’s the face that they’re topped with whipped cream cheese? Yeah, that could be it.
2. Butternut Squash Pie
This Italian dessert sounds beautiful – somewhere between a custard and a pie and sprinkled with almonds.
3. Squash with Dates and Thyme
I love me some roasted squash, and acorn has become a recent favorite of mine. This acorn squash tossed with coconut oil and roasted with dates sounds perfect – I love the thought of the sweetness from the dates. I would throw the thyme in to roast with the squash, and maybe add a sprinkle of cayenne.
I realize that at this point you might be sick and tired of hearing us harp about howgreatTamarAdler’sAnEverlasting Mealis. But hear me out one more time. Everyone has stale bread. Or at least everyone who has bread at some point and does not eat it all eventually has stale bread lying around. And most of the time it gets thrown away, or responsibly composted. If you are culinarily educated, dear reader, you may already have known of stale bread soup; but as I read Tamar’s book, I was astounded to find out that not only does such a thing exist, but there is a long and ancient tradition of creating soup from leftover bread (Ribollita in Italian).
There are a few things that should be said about stale bread soup. First, it is not a soup in the same way that chicken noodle is a soup; stale bread soup is usually much thicker and feels more like a hearty chili. Second, stale bread soup is more of a general idea and a starting point than a recipe. It is meant to be made with whatever is around, provided you have some stale bread (otherwise, you will be making whatever-is-around soup – which could turn out to be vegetables-in-water “soup” if you don’t have any broth lying around).
The recipe below is adapted slightly from Tamar’s recipe for Ribollita in An Everlasting Meal. In usual Tamar fashion, you will use A LOT of olive oil in this recipe. We have made stale bread soup twice now, so I’ve noted the different things we used.
Stale Bread Soup (Ribollita)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
Celery, if you have it (I did not)
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs like parsley or rosemary or thyme (if you don’t have fresh, maybe do 1/4 cup dried?)
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
Tomatoes in some form, if you want (3 peeled fresh tomatoes, or I used 1 can diced. Made it once without tomatoes as well)
1 bunch leafy greens (I used kale once and cauliflower greens once; other ideas are swiss chard, collard greens, radish greens, etc)
1/4 cup water
2 cups cooked beans (I used a can of black beans both times, Tamar suggests chickpeas or cannellini beans)
2 cups broth from beans or chicken/veggie stock or cans of tomatoes (I used a combo of all three, and you can make up any shortfall with water)
1 piece of Parmesan rind (Do this if you can, because it makes the soup soooo tasty and rich. Also, what else are you going to do with your Parmesan rind?)
2 cups stale bread, crusts removed, torn/cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Heat 1/4 inch olive oil (this is just the beginning) in a big-ish soup pot. Cook the onion and garlic (and celery if you have it) until they soften. Add the herbs and chile flakes and a little bit of salt. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes over medium heat.
Chop the greens (and remove from the stems) then add to the pot, and add the water. Cover and cook over low heat until the greens are wilted. Put in all your broths/waters/juices and the beans, plus the Parmesan rind.
(If you have a bunch of Parmesan left, make sure to cut the rind from the rest of the Parmesan. Otherwise, just save the Parmesan rind for when you will next make bread soup. Make sure your Parmesan is big enough that you can keep track of it, because you’re going to take it out later.)
Bring to a simmer, then add the bread and more olive oil (Tamar says to add 1/2 cup, but I was not brave enough and probably added about a 1/4 cup at this point). Cover and cook for 1/2 hour on low, stirring occasionally to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn. The bread will soak up the soup and then liquify into it. Taste it, add more broth or salt or whatever you want, and then take it off the heat.
Add in another 1/2 cup olive oil (Tamar, are you crazy!?!? I probably added 3 tablespoons here) and take out the Parmesan rind. You can grate Parmesan on top and add some pepper to serve.
This soup is perfect for a windy, rainy, cold, or dark winter/fall night.
Last weekend, my baby sister came down to Portland to visit me and Jonah (as well as some of her college friends who live here). On Saturday night she came over for dinner, and we whipped up a quick and delicious spaghetti and meatballs. The sauce recipe came from my Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook and the meatball recipe came from Martha Stewart.
This pasta was actually way better than I anticipated it being for how easy it was. The sauce was really light and simple, which was a good balance for the meatballs which were a little creamier (because of the parmesan and milk and bread). It was filling and delicious and made for good leftovers. Enjoy!
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Tomato Sauce and Pasta
3 Tbl olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can of diced tomato
2 Tbl (or more) of course chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1 lb spaghetti
8 ounces ground beef
8 ounces ground pork
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 slices white bread (Martha says to just tear the bread up into small pieces, which we did, but I think it would have been better if we’d thrown it into the food processor because then it would’ve been in smaller pieces)
1/4 cup milk
Tomato Sauce and Pasta
First, make the sauce. Heat 2 Tbl of oil and the garlic in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the garlic until it’s golden, but not too brown, a few minutes. Add the tomatoes (including their juice, of course) and bring to a simmer. Cook until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, then add the basil, sugar and salt. We didn’t want our sauce too chunky, so before adding the basil, we blended it a little bit with a hand blender. While we were making the sauce, we also cooked the pasta alongside.
In a bowl, combine the beef and pork (using your hands). Add the garlic, cheese, parsley (we didn’t have any so we skipped that part), and eggs. Season with 1 1/4 tsp salt and some pepper. While you’re adding all these things, soak the bread in the milk for a few minutes, then stir into the meat.
Now roll the meat into 1 1/2 inch balls. The recipe also said to refrigerate them for 1 hour, which probably would have helped them hold their shape, but whatever. We were hungry. So we just heated a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Cook the meatballs until browned on all sides (6-ish minutes) and then transfer them to the simmering sauce. This is where they’ll actually cook through. Be sure to check and make sure they’re done by just cutting a meatball open.
Drain your pasta a teensy bit before it’s fully cooked (if you haven’t already at this point) and put it back in the pot. Add the pasta sauce and meatballs to the pasta and cook a little bit longer in the sauce. According to Molly, this is what Anthony Bourdain says to do. I trust that guy. And serve!
Serve it up and garnish with some fresh basil and parmesan cheese!