September 23, 2011

Recipe: Vegetarian Menastra (aka Greens & Beans)

Sorry for the lack of posting, I've been super busy lately! I'm super annoyed with myself because The Boy and I have been doing tons of projects, mostly cleaning and refinishing antique furniture from my grandparent's home to move into our apartment, and I keep forgetting to take "before" pictures. Instead I have a bunch of "almost done" and "halfway" photos. Poop.

The weather here has also been super helpful in allowing us to get things done. Mostly because it has been raining constantly and we can't really leave the apartment to do all the fun Fall things that I have planned (How am I suppose to go apple picking in a thunderstorm? wtf). Among these things getting done is cooking way more than usual (yay, for apartment life). In the past week we've had menastra, polenta with garlic, olive oil, cracked pepper and mozzarella, asparagus with garlic and olive oil (can you tell we're Italian yet?) and cupcakes. Way too many cupcakes.

So here is a version of my grandmother's Menastra, modified for vegetarians. Great for cold, rainy and/or snow days. Best served with bread and butter for soaking up the broth. This recipe makes enough for several dinner sized bowls of soup (I'd say 3-4 large bowls)

(sorry, this is the only picture I remembered to take)

  • 1 head of escarole
  • 1 can of drained great northern white beans or more traditional cannellini beans
  • 28 ounces (2 cans) of vegetable broth
  • Minced garlic (I use about 3 cloves)
  • Olive oil (about 2T or to taste)
  • 1T of butter
  • Dash of chili powder or red pepper flakes
  • Non vegetarians can also add pepperoni
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese

  1. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauce pan on medium. Add minced garlic, as wells a dash or two of salt and pepper each. I like to add a little butter, but it's not necessary.
  2. Tear up escarole and gradually add to pan, adding more as the escarole wilts. Add chili powder and/or red pepper and more olive oil as necessary (make sure all the greens are coated). Continue to stir until all the escarole is wilted, about a minute. If you are doing a non-vegetarian version you can also add the pepperoni now.
  3. Add 1 can of the vegetable broth and cover. Simmer on medium for about 30 minutes or until escarole is limp all the way through and tender. Sometimes this can take quite some time. Don't be surprised if it takes an hour.
  4. Add 1 can of drained beans and the rest of the vegetable broth. Continue to cook until warmed all the way through. It's nice to make this soup in the afternoon and leave it on the stove on low until dinner time.
  5. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (go for the good stuff!) and serve with Italian bread and butter.

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