January: Pasta e Fagioli

I always like to keep track of the year in some way. In 2015, I read 52 books from a list and wrote haiku reviews of them. In 2016, I read every single New Yorker magazine cover to cover so that the nonfiction and short stories could act as a counterbalance to all the fiction from the previous year. And last year in 2017, I kept track of hard data. I also managed to watch 44 spooky movies in the 2 months leading up to Halloween.

I’ve been doing a lot more cooking recently. I’ve always enjoyed it, but now that I live with 3 other people, I’m much more likely to be adventurous in the kitchen. And because I have a ridiculous number of cookbooks that I like to flip through, I’m going to try new vegetarian recipes at least once a month. So here we go!

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The Dinner Plan: Simple Weeknight Recipes and Strategies for Every Schedule

Kathy Brennan & Caroline Campion, Harry N. Abrams (2017)

For Christmas, I got “The Dinner Plan,” a collection of recipes that are easy for weeknights, and categorizes foods not only by ingredients but also on factors like if it only use one pan, or the leftovers keep really well for several days, or you can prepare some things ahead of time.

Pasta e Fagioli (which translates to “pasta and beans”) is an Italian peasant soup that’s great for cold weather, specifically after a day of skiing at Stevens Pass. All of the ingredients were easy to find, and I had no problem finding ways to increase the volume for unannounced dinner guests.

“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.” – Federico Fellini

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Modifications, Testing and Recommendations: I liked this dish because it only uses one large pot, and it has all of my favorite Italian flavors: onion, garlic, tomato, pasta, thyme, olive oil and spices. To increase the volume and make more than the recommended 4-6 servings, I added more spinach into the soup. I also added some chopped mushrooms as well, because the flavors fit right in with the rest of the dish. When the soup got too thick from adding more vegetables, I used a splash of water or broth to readjust the ratio. I served it with slices of toasted rosemary bread. It keeps well enough to make on a Sunday and pack for lunches all week!

Get the recipe here! “The Dinner Plan” recommends crushed tomatoes instead of chopped, but it seems that the basic pasta e fagioli recipes are very similar across the board. Delicious and hearty, easy to customize for your particular tastes.

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