Italian and Red for Dinner

Tonight’s supper consisted of two simple Italian dishes, featuring the color red, including the accompanying wine.

The first course was designed to use up the remaining Viola organic Italian chickpeas I had prepared for another meal several days earlier — these were the leftovers.  In Marcella’s first cookbook (well-worn from years of my use) I found a simple Chickpea Soup recipe.  It highlighted the chickpeas, some garlic, excellent Italian tomatoes and lots of finely chopped dried rosemary leaves.  It called for a cup of stock (we normally have some roasted vegetable stock in the freezer), but there was very little left, so I improvised by adding a cup of hot water to a few pieces of dried porcini, and I think it added some depth to the dish.

  • fry the garlic in 1/3 cup of olive oil until browned, then discard
  • add chopped rosemary
  • add about a cup of chopped tomatoes and their juices, and cook for 15-20 minutes, until tomatoes and oil separate
  • add cooked chickpeas and heat with tomatoes for 5-7 minutes
  • add stock (and the chopped porcini) and boil on medium low (covered) for 25-35 minutes
  • add a little water if needed
  • season with salt and pepper, heat another couple of minutes
  • toast some crusty bread, put in soup bowl, and fill with the soup.  Serve.

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I used a small soup pot so it made just enough for the two of us.

Next course was leftovers — but pumped up for the occasion.  A few nights ago I grilled a bunch of vegetables — eggplant, onions, zucchini — and added them with tomatoes to a dish with fine quality Penne pasta from Puglia.  Naturally, I had some of the leftovers for lunch the next day, but now the remainder would have looked pretty wimpy in a pasta bowl reheated in the microwave.  So I borrowed a page from Al Forno in Providence, and prepared the dish with some rice milk (instead of cream), a little grated mozzarella, some olive oil, more juice from the canned tomatoes used for the soup, and fresh bread crumbs grated from the heel of one of my whole grain breads.  Tossing it all together in a bowl, I put the pasta in a shallow gratin dish and baked in a hot oven (475º F.) until crispy with some dark spots.

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Magnifico!  Revivified in this manner, the dish was very good, and it was complemented beautifully by a Cerasuolo di Vittoria (Sicily) by Manenti, from Jan D’Amore.

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