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Unexpected finds: Borlotti beans, beetroot tops and plum jam
I know, I know… I had promised posts from Italia, but our lovely house in the Tuscia Viterbese had no internet access, with the closest village being a 15 minute bike ride away! Anyhow, these 2 weeks saw me making a number of unexpected finds in the kitchen…
This year has been a good crop for this type of bean… apparently, my friend Ezio, who lives in the same village and runs the most beautiful kitchen garden, told me that they have been going well, and one evening I was delighted that he delivered a big bag of bean pods, fresh from the plant and out of the back of his Ape!
Happy as one can be, I set out to make pasta e fagioli, a real staple in my house… you should be honoured that I am sharing the recipe with you below.
Pasta e Fagioli Recipe
For 4 people
What you will need…
About 1.5kg borlotti bean pods; 1 celery stick, 2 medium carrots; 1 onion, 3/4 ripe tomatoes, skins and all; a small handful of parsley and a pinch of chilli powder; 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil; 200g of your favourite small pasta (ditali or broken spaghetti the best!).
What to do…
Take the beans out of the pods, wash under cold water, then put them in a pan filled with cold water along with the celery and one carrot.
Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 45min, until the beans are tender, yet firm.
Meanwhile, sautee the onion and carrot, both finely diced, along with the chopped tomatoes, til they are tender.
Add the borlotti beans, cooked, along with about 2/3 of their water (keep the rest!); season with salt, white pepper, chilli and parsley, cover and simmer for about 20minutes.Add the pasta, adjust the salt and add more parsley if you like. Cook til al dente; if you see that the soup is very thick, add the rest of the beans’ water, as needed, and keep a check on the salt too.
A real delight, even on a hot summer day as it is lovely cold too.
You will now ask, “what about beetroot tops”? Well, apparently Ezio’s beets were not as good this year, ‘all leaves, no flesh’ as he said to me and he was actually right. Little bulbs, topped with a big head… but hey, rest assured–beet tops taste like spinach, if not better as they tend to be sweeter… I like them steamed and then tossed in a saucepan with olive oil, garlic and thyme; then can also be thrown in the pan of a minestrone and will add colour and texture to it.
Finally, plum jam… my Auntie lives nearby and has a brilliant couple of plum trees, one of which is a golden plum… and bearing a big crop indeed this year. After eating plums for about a week we had enough and decided to make jam… the method is easy with us:
Plum Jam Recipe
Per kg of plums, we add about 300g brown demerara sugar and about 25cl water and leave it to simmer til we get a nice, jammy consistency-as a result, we managed to gather very little science and a lot of fun, taste and sun in jars for the winter!
I had not made jam in years, and this was the best find… seeing my Mum in the kitchen watching the pan, listening to the radio and stirring it every now and then, all the while whilst reading the paper. Brought me back to many years ago!
I promise another post about another find… a restaurant in Dublin which offers raw food as well as stone cooked goodies!
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