Fasolada (bean soup)
Ingredients (per person/ serving)
(Choose organic vegetables if possible)
- 1/2 handful of long white beans (e.g. canellini),
- 1 carrot, cut in thin round slices,
- 1 small onion, chopped,
- 1 small celery stalk and/ or a bunch of leaves, chopped,
- 1 big organic tomato or 2 small ones, or 1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes,
- 1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil,
- salt and freshly ground pepper,
- 1-2 saffron (crocus) stigmas,
- 2 Tbsps fresh lemon juice
Combine with a potato salad:
- 1 small potato (steamed or boiled),
- parsley leaves, chopped,
- 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil,
- 1 garlic clove, chopped thinly,
- 1 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice,
- 1 tsp of freshly ground walnuts,
- salt and pepper to taste
Place the beans in a large saucepan or heat-proof container. Immerse beans in hot water and keep covered overnight. Discard the water before cooking next day. Put the beans back in the saucepan and cover with water about double the amount of the beans. Bring to the boil and leave for 10-15 minutes, add all the vegetables except the tomatoes (also leave the salt, pepper and oil for the end). Simmer for about 1-2 hours and check that the beans are tender. When almost ready, add the tomatoes (if fresh, rinse well under water, cut an opening on the top to discard the tomato stalk, and squeeze down gently to remove the seeds, then chop the tomatoes fine or liquidize in a blender and add to the soup), leave for another 15 minutes and finally add the salt, pepper, crocus and olive oil. Simmer for less than 5 minutes and serve.
Let the soup cool down in your bowl while you prepare the potato salad:
Cut the potato in thin slices or wedges, sprinkle with the rest of the ingredients, add salt and pepper to taste.
This is not only a heartening recipe for the winter, or any other season indeed, if served at room temperature, but also a filling soup particularly for vegetarians since it is rich in protein and iron as well as most minerals. The particular salad adds valuable phytonutrients and vitamins, and makes the beans more tolerable for some people, in practice, by consuming a smaller quantity of the main dish and combining with a potato-based side-dish. There is a tradition of combining potatoes with legumes to reduce the gas forming potential based on trial-and-error rather than scientific evidence, although this may differ from person to person depending on bowel flora tolerance of non-digestible fibre.
Gemista (stuffed vegetables – peppers)
Ingredients (serves 2)
- 4 small-medium sized (2 green and 2 red) peppers,
- 4 Tbsps arborio rice (for a softer texture) or brown rice,
- 1-2 carrots, grated,
- 2 big onions, chopped,
- A small bunch of fresh parsley, chopped,
- A small bunch of mint (spearmint) or some fresh basil leaves, chopped,
- 1 handful of soya mince, soaked in water and drained,
- 1 Tbsp pine nuts,
- 1 big tomato (with seeds squeezed off) puréed in a blender/ mixer,
- 5 Tbsps extra virgin olive oil,
- Salt and freshly ground (black and rose) pepper
Rinse all the fresh ingredients thoroughly. Open up the top part of each pepper by cutting an opening in a top-down cone-shaped manner (I usually insert the knife halfway through the stalk and the edge of the pepper, then tilt the knife to about 45 degrees and cut clockwise while pushing the pepper in my other hand anti-clockwise – I am right-handed!). You will use each stalk cone as a lid after stuffing. Remove any seeds from the lids and also trim their fleshy part (put these little bits in your mixture as they can add to the flavour). Discard the inner membranes of the peppers. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and stuff the peppers with the mixture (keep 1 Tbsp of olive oil to sprinkle on the top after placing the peppers in a baking tray). Cook in the oven at about 390 F, 200oC for 1.5-2 hours.
Enjoy with a green salad and a small portion of low-fat feta cheese.
This is a delicious dish especially in the summer. Other veggies can be stuffed as well (aubergines, tomatoes, vine leaves, courgettes). Peppers and courgette flowers (very easy to stuff after gently removing the stamens) are my favourite. A dish particularly rich in flavonoids and carotenoids, providing a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and unsaturated fatty acids.