I am loving the conversations from the last post about the evidence surrounding eating a Mediterranean diet. The New York Times wrote a follow-up article that summarizes my feelings pretty closely: there is a surprising lack of evidence for nutritional recommendations. While in medical school, I remember being taught that the only thing shown to keep weight loss on long-term was bariatric surgery. Perhaps that is because the proper studies have not be done. To be fair, I learned the DASH diet with was better than any single medication to reduce high blood pressure. Hopefully, the flurry of interest from this past study will propel researchers to investigate plant-based whole foods eats. The New York Times suggested a vegan diet is not a long-term option, but I disagree.
Onwards with another Mediterranean meal? Vegan AND delicious?
I love it when I know it is going to be a good week. By Sunday, after I do my batch cooking and a bit of taste testing, I have a good idea how my meals will be for the week. Flops or wins? I never seem to know with these Random Recipes.
This one was a big win!
Dom pushed us to randomly pick a recipe from our (physical) recipe pile. I still like to print out my recipes for the week and sometimes throw in bonus recipes if there is empty space on my page. While cleaning the kitchen table, I decided to tackle one of my recent but neglected clipped out recipes.
Sometimes I am blown away by the simplicity of good food. I wasn’t expecting this to taste so good as it did, so I was pleased to have such great tasting lunches all week.
This recipe was for a ribollita, an Italian peasant soup featuring vegetable soup with day-old bread. Most versions use leftover vegetable soup, but here we create a complex soup simply from roasted vegetables. Roasted fennel was new to me, but I really liked the medley from roasted red peppers, zucchinis, carrots, mushrooms and onions. White beans add bulk and the giant corona white beans were a perfect match to the chunky vegetables. Sliced cabbage added an almost noodle-like feel with some structure to the vegetable soup. I added both tomato paste and red pepper paste to the broth simply because I was too lazy to open a new can of tomato paste. I really liked the deep flavours from both pastes, but feel free to use only tomato paste if that is what you have on hand. I omitted the bread completely, so I doubt this is still a ribollita proper, but it sounds like a wonderful addition for this hearty soup.
Which soups are warming your belly this winter?
1 head garlic (12 cloves)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 fennel bulb, cored and chopped
1 large zucchini, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 portobello mushroom, stemmed and chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
1.75 cups cooked white beans (I used cooked corona white beans from Whole Foods), divided, reserving any cooking liquid
4 cups vegetable broth and/or reserved bean liquid
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp Turkish red pepper paste (or more tomato paste)
3 cups sliced green cabbage (300g)
1. Preheat oven to 425F. (I happened to use a convection oven but a regular oven is fine, too)
2. Chop off the top of the head of the garlic, add a touch of coconut oil, season with salt and pepper and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. In a large silpat-lined baking pan (I used a 9×13 glass baking dish), combine red pepper, fennel, zucchini, carrot, onion, and mushrooms. Dab coconut oil overtop veggies, place in oven to allow it to melt, then stir into the veggies. Season with salt and pepper, cover with foil and roast for 40 minutes, stirring half-way through. Remove foil and continue to roast another 10 minutes, to allow the vegetables to brown.
3. Meanwhile, reserve half of the white beans and set aside. Add the other half of the beans to a food processor and puree until smooth.
4. In a large pot, add pureed beans, vegetable broth, tomato paste, red pepper paste and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer. Once your roasted vegetables are ready add them to the pot. Remove cloves of roasted garlic and smush to make a puree. Add this to the soup as well. Add the cabbage and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
5. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm. Want a real ribolitta? Serve with a slice of toasted bread.