Food for Thought

Weather this weekend along the New Jersey coastline is calling for wind and rain…yuck!  So my weekend activities will include drinking wine and cooking. I love to create new dishes with just what I have in my kitchen. My Italian grandmother, Grandma Lena, taught our family how to make delicious dishes with the bare minimums.  She was from Abruzzo, Italy where Italian cuisine, I believe, is at its purest. Why? Located in central Italy it stretches from the heart of the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea. On mostly mountainous and wild terrain and being surrounded by its famous nations parks between the North and South it has been protected from centuries of foreign cuisine influences.

A small town in Abruzzo called Villa Santa Maria is known as the “Home of Chefs”.
Some of the world’s best chefs have been learning to cook for royalty and renowned restaurants around the world in Villa Santa Maria. In October there is an Abruzzo food festival celebrating Italian cooks, which prominent chefs attend. I would love to celebrate my birthday in this small town one year. You guessed it…my birthday is in October! Abruzzo food is a mixture of different traditional tastes and even today, its variety mirrors its background from a large number of Abruzzo cooking customs from years of uninterrupted traditions – it’s where the cuisine from both the sea and the mountains comes alive!

Here is one of my favorite dishes:  Sagne e Fagioli or better know as Pasta e Fagioli, a pasta and bean soup.

1 cup Ditalini pasta
6 thick sliced bacon, diced
2 cups onion, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cans (15 oz.) white beans, drained
3 cups chicken broth
1 can (15 ½ oz.) kidney beans
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried oregano

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Rinse with cold water to cool quickly and drain well.

In 5 quart saucepan over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Add onion, celery, garlic; stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl, mash 1 can of white beans. Add chicken broth, remaining beans, cooked pasta, tomato with juice, bay leaf and oregano.

Add bean mixture to saucepan, heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered about 10 minutes.

Pour a glass of wine and buon appetito!


Rebecca Louise | Realife Co


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