Istrian Cuisine

By Mirjana

Istrian Cuisine

Postby mirjana » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:37 pm

Today I prepared for us one of traditional Istrian dishes. The name is Pasta fagioli. I served it with Radicchio/ Rucola salad. Whenever I prepare it and somebody eats with us, the feedback is always great, so I decided to share this recipe with you here.
As for salad I try, whenever I can, to serve Radichio-Rucola Salad with chopped Parmesan, because it goes perfect with this dish. Having eco green market in Porec with salad and vegetables bought by peasants that are not chemically treated is a nice privilege.

Pasta fagioli
Radicchio (green and red)/Rucola Salad with chopped Parmesan
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Pasta fagioli, meaning “pasta and beans” is a kind of meatless soup. It is more famous as a traditional Italian dish although it is a traditional Istrian dish as well. It is a simple and clean dish with delicious taste, not complicated to prepare and with lot of possibilities for so called personal touch. Most common way is prepared of cannellini beans.
But I prepared it of dried pink beans because they are easier to digest and according to my opinion they taste better in this dish. It is my mother’s recipe that is familiar in Boka Kotorska.
As I used to spend my summers by my grandfather there I am used to eat it that way and have been cooking this pasta fagioli.
Small type pasta is the best for this dish. Sometimes I used chopped potato instead.
The base is generally olive oil, garlic, minced onion, and spices, along with stewed tomatoes or tomato paste. I do not use tomato in my Pasta fagioli, but I use my home made tomato paste if I prepare a sauce for the next day from the rest of the meal.
The consistency of the dish can vary, from clearly soup category to the thicker versions. My Pasta fagioli is thicker. But when I strain the rest, then I get the base for many new possibilities I explained under Possibilities with rest

Ingredients

1/2 pound dry pink beans
1-1/2 quart water
4 Tblsp. olive oil
1Tblsp. butter
2 cloves minced garlic
1 minced onion
1/4 cup minced celery
1/4 cup minced carrots
1/4 cup minced Parsley roots
¼ cup minced Pasternak root
2 dried laurel leaves
Dash chili pepper
1/2 tsp salt according to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup uncooked pasta or chopped potato
3 Tblsp. chopped fresh garden Parsley
Grated parmesan – optional (I do not serve it always)


Preparation
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1. Wash beans and soak in 1-1/2 quart water overnight.
2. Next day I first cook beans with soak water until boiling. Then immediately strain it and add the same quantity of new hot water. I do this because this way is also much better for digestion.
3. Heat olive oil and sauté garlic, onion and all other vegetables until soft.
4. Blend in tomato paste, chili pepper and pepper, or avoid tomato like I do.
5. Add beans with hot water. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, about 1-2 hours, adding more water as needed to keep the consistency soupy or the way you prefer. Add salt when beans are almost tender. I always use herbal salt.
6. Meanwhile, if you prepare fagioli with pasta, cook the chosen pasta until "al dente." Drain and toss with butter to prevent sticking.
7. When beans are tender, add the pasta and parsley and simmer 5 more minutes. After tasting it is the moment to add more salt if needed.
8. Usually this dish is topped with cheese to serve. I prefer to serve extra Parmesan so that it can be used by choice.
9. I also always serve extra olive oil aside so that everyone who wants can add a bit more in the plate.


Variations
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Instead pasta you can use chopped potato.
You can make Pasta fagioli with or without tomato.
Instead tossing your pasta with butter you can do the same with olive oil.

How to use the rest of this meal?


When I have some rest of Pasta fagioli, I usually enrich some of my dishes prepared next day. If I prepare vegetable or tomato soup, I just add the rest and I get a new flavor of the tomato soup. Some chopped celery leaves will make it very tasty and decorative too.

Or strain the rest of soup for the next day as an addition to any other art of soup you will prepare, saving beans for another combination, as a dip.

When puréed beans can be and served as a dip with different additional ingredients, like chopped olives, or extra blend of olive oil/ Garlic/Parsley. I use sometimes this variation adding my home made tomato paste or some homemade pesto.

Mashed beans with chopped onion, Parsley, herbal salt, pepper and smashed cooked potato make good base for vegetable chops.

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Today is a very warm sunny day, over 20 and with birds in the garden and dancing olive leaves as a view we enjoyed our meal on the terrace.
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mirjana
 
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Gnocchi with Sage

Postby mirjana » Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:12 am

It is a simple meal with ordinary ingredients. One could think what is so special about it. Some people do not consider gnocchi as real pasta. But, this gnocchi, are special although the only ingredients are simple gnocchi served with butter, sage and Parmesan.
There are few simple rules:
Prepare gnocchi always as a fresh meal because they lose their colour if overnight.

Preparation


Cook potatoes with their skin in boiling water for around 20 minutes. Drain them well and peel them protecting your hands.
Place peeled potatoes in a large bowl and smash them until they are smooth and fluffy. Use an electric hand whisk on a slow speed for this purpose.
Then leave them to cool.

Add the sifted flour to the potatoes, a beaten egg and a bit of herbs salt and making a mixture. Make soft dough using your hands. On a lightly floured surface make quarters of your dough and roll each quarter into a sausage shape (1cm) in diameter and cutting it in diagonal into 2,5cm pieces, make your gnocchi. Leave them so cut for next half an hour to rest.
After that, press with a fork slightly each of them so that you make ridges. They are very useful afterwards as they absorb your sauce more effectively.

You will cook your gnocchi in lot of water (3,5-4 litres). Drop your gnocchi into the boiling water and cook them around 3 minutes. They will probably start floating after two minutes, but they need a bit more to be ready. With a help of a draining spoon remove your gnocchi from the water and put them in the serving dish, previously warmed in the oven.

When they are ready, remove the gnocchi with a draining spoon and transfer them to the warm serving dish oiled with an olive oil.

I prepare my sauce mixing pressed garlic with melted butter over a gentle heat about 1 minute. After that I add sage leaves. They need about 30 sec to turn crisp. Immediately after that I pour the sauce over the gnocchi sprinkling a bit of Parmesan over. I serve them with a lot of Parmesan so that each one can have it according to the personal taste.
This is a very fine meal and you will enjoy it after you give it a try.

=0)
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mirjana
 
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