White Bean Soup | Zuppa di Fagioli

Here I sit at the (usually) hottest part of the year, and as I write it is a cool day, and wet. So we find ourselves wanting Autumnal food. Having made a risotto yesterday, I am using the remainder of the stock to make a white bean soup – luckily I had the forethought to soak the beans overnight. You have to bless the Italians, right? Simple food with great flavours.

This soup is just gorgeous because the beans just seem to float in this gorgeous broth.

White beans are great – versatile for Summer in Salads, and in Winter for Soups, pasta sauces and more hearty dishes. Use cannellini or haricot beans when white beans are specified. Keep them in your pantry year-round.

Other White Bean recipes include: Grilled Eggplant Salad with Pine Nuts, White Beans and Pita Chips, Florentine Beans, and Tuscan Beans with Sage and Lemon.

All of our Cannellini Bean recipes are here, and our Haricot Bean recipes here.  See all of our Italian recipes. Or browse our wonderful Soups. Our easy Mid Autumn recipes are all here.

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Cheese and Eggplant Torte | Cheesy Eggplant Layers

Yet another divine use for eggplant – such a versatile vegetable. This time it is a cheesy torte – eggplants layered, Italian style, with cheeses, baked, allowed to rest and firm up, then cut into wedges to serve. What could be better? It makes a great lunch or supper, or works very well in a tapas spread, mezze or antipasto. It even makes a great any-time snack.

Eggplant is so flexible, and very variation tastes so good. You can bake it, simmer it, steam it, BBQ it, grill it, roast it, saute it and deep fry it. I hope you try some of these recipes.

It makes great Indian style Chutney, Curries, Salads, Fritters, Pasta Sauces, Rice dishes, and gentle dishes.

As well as all of these Eggplant recipes, you might like to also browse our Italian recipes and our easy Late Summer dishes.

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Pasta Sauce with Aubergine, Red Peppers and Tomato

This dish combines the classic flavours of an Italian pasta dish.

Often a pasta dish is my go-to Saturday or Sunday night fare. With a friend from a good Italian commercial pasta making family, we are never short of good pasta. This dish combines the classic flavours of an Italian pasta dish. Use a great spaghetti, a thick one if you can, or thin if you cannot. Pasta shells work well also.

You might like to read Pasta with Soul – how long to cook pasta. Similar dishes include Pasta with a Cauliflower Sauce, Baked Tomato Pasta Sauce, Pasta Aglio e Olio, and Pasta with Tomato and Basil. Explore our other Pasta recipes here and here.

Feel free to browse our Eggplant recipes here and here.  We have some Italian recipes here and here. Check out our easy Winter recipes here and here.

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Pasta with a Cauliflower Sauce

Secrets from an Italian Kitchen

I have been reading the book The Everlasting Meal . The thing about The Everlasting Meal is that it has me thinking a lot about my approach to the kitchen. It resonates a lot. Yet, Tamar discusses a very Mediterranean-Italian approach to food so there are differences. I have been discussing her book with my Italian friends, and discovering more and more secrets. Like this one — and it amazes me that this is not general knowledge in Australia, given that we have adopted so much of the Italian approach to food here. Italian in Australia is like Indian in the UK.

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Beetroot and Pinot Risotto

Like rubies, real rubies, the Prince of Vegetables – such is the humble beetroot. This is another beetroot risotto, a perfect combination of the earthy taste of beetroot with the creaminess of risotto. Such an unusual colour! It is beautiful served on white or green plates. A splendour of colour! Stand back and wait for the spontaneous applause which is sure to come.

You might like to explore other Risotto recipes here and here. Our Beetroot recipes are here and here. Or browse our Italian dishes here and here. If you are after Spring recipes, our Mid Spring dishes are here.

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Orange and Olive Salad with Mint and Basil

Bounce into (almost) summer with a sweet citrus salad with Italian flavours. Simply mix herbs with orange, onion and olives – what a wonderful homage to this stunning weather. May there be much more of it. This is the time to enjoy eating outside under the shade of a tree with a carafe of white wine, salads and fresh flatbread, and lots of fruits with creme fraiche. For this salad, use navel oranges if they are of good quality (easy to peel), but grab some more seasonal ones if they look better and juicier.

You might like to browse our other Orange Salads here, our Citrus Salads, or our other Salad Recipes here and here (we have a lot!) Our Italian dishes are here and here. Or simply explore our recipes for Early Summer.

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A Plate of Cauliflower | Simplicity Itself

This must be simplicity personified in the kitchen

Towards the end of the day, after yoga, I picked up a very large cauliflower very cheaply. It turned out that we didn’t need a lot for dinner, so the cauliflower became one of the features of our meal with some crusty bread, a few hot cannellini beans and a salad.

Feel free to browse our Cauliflower recipes here and here. Check out our easy Autumn recipes here and here.

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Asparagus Risotto with Basil

Perfectly Spring.

Here is a beautiful spring risotto, made with asparagus. This gorgeous, simple and delicious green risotto really shows off the flavours of the asparagus.

What is it about this risotto? It is the first of the season’s asparagus that is looked forward to by Italians with a lot of joy. Asparagus risotto, with its melting creaminess offset against the chew of the rice and the delicacy of young asparagus, enriched with butter and  parmesan which is whipped into the rice at the end, is a joy to create and a pleasure to eat.

The secret to the dish is softened asparagus, properly cooked rice and using good risotto rice. Strictly an entree dish in Northern Italy, in Australia we have turned this into a one-course meal. It pairs well with a fresh green garden salad.

Feel free to browse recipes from our Retro Recipes series. You might also like our Risotto recipes here and here. Or you might like to browse Asparagus recipes here and here. Check out our easy Spring recipes here and here.

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Florentine Beans | Fagioli alla Fiorentina

Tuscans are known as mangiafagioli, bean eaters. White beans are a way of life, and a traditional Tuscan meal often starts with a thick bean soup that has been cooked in a terracotta pot, flavoured with herbs and heavily anointed with olive oil. This one is cooked on the stove top for convenience, and is flavoured with sage, garlic and olive oil.

Eat these Tuscan beans with thick slices of real bread – one with a delicious crust and a chewy interior. If you like, spoon the beans over bread, slightly toasted. You will love it.

You might also like Tuscan Beans Baked with Lemon and Sage. Browse our Cannellini Bean recipes and here; and our Italian recipes here and here. Or simply explore our Late Spring dishes.

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Baked Tomato Pasta Sauce

How do we love tomatoes? Let me count the ways. We do eat them raw, of course, especially in the occasional tomato salad, and we love Tomato  and avocado sandwiches on thick slices of the freshest bread, or tomato and pomegranate salad, and tomato tossed through hot spaghetti with a chilli and some olive oil. But best of all we love the transformation that occurs when juicy Autumn tomatoes are cooked.

Recently, I have been oven baking them into a wonderful sauce for pasta, for stirring through a vegetable hot pot, or for baking beans a la Tuscan Baked Beans (but use the juicy baked tomatoes instead of water). They are also great in curries – use them instead of fresh tomatoes when cooking Indian dishes. Blitz the tomatoes into a soup. The juicy roasted sauce can also be frozen for use in some later dish.

You might like to browse our Tomato Salads, here and here, and our Tomato Soups here and here. All Tomato recipes are here and here. Find inspiration in our Autumn recipes here and here.

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Italian Tomato Sauce

A very versatile Italian Sauce

This is a gorgeously herby tomato sauce with an Italian swagger. It cooks slowly down then is blended well (using a blender) or coarsely (with an immersion blender), and the sauce can be frozen. It pairs delightfully with cheeses like fontina, can serve as a fresh chutney, used as a spread in layered sandwiches and toasties, and of course serves as a sauce as well.

It was my daughter who first pointed out how good this recipe is. It has been in use in our household since 1998. That is how good it is!

Feel free to browse recipes from our Retro Recipes series. You might also like our Tomato recipes here and here. Or you might like to browse Sauce recipes here and here. Check out our easy Autumn recipes here and here.

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Italian Farmhouse Barley and Vegetable Soup | Zuppa di Orzo

A creamy and hearty soup for mid to late Winter, even into the cold of Spring

In October, 2001, I shifted back to cold Adelaide from temperate Sydney, and the cold weather was a shock! It had me craving soups. In Sydney I was not so keen on the more traditional English and heavy European food any longer – I had turned towards more Indian, Asian and Spicy food. However, coming back into the cold in Adelaide from warm Sydney made me hunger for hearty food – pasties, puddings and soups. How much heartier can you get than Barley Soup?

This really  is a hearty soup, made with caramelised vegetables that come together with the barley (some whole and some pureed) to make a great, Italian soup. Beautifully creamy, it is a delight for cold nights and wet weekends.

If you have been preserving and freezing foods in Autumn for Winter, this is a time to use chillies, garlic and tomatoes from your freezer. It makes it sooo easy.

It can be a tad confusing, as orzo in Italian is barley while in Greek it is rice shaped pasta. For this recipe, we are definitely using barley.

You might also like our Soup recipes here and here. We have a few Barley Recipes which will be published in the coming months. Our Italian recipes are here and here. Check out our easy Winter recipes here and here. And feel free to browse recipes from our Retro Recipes series.

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Farinata with Tomato, Onions and Cheese

A beautiful Italian snack

The use of chickpea flour for endless varieties of dishes fascinates me. Having made pudla again for lunch yesterday, I remembered that we hadn’t made farinata for a long time. It is great for a brunch with some salads.

The toppings for farinata are endless and only limited by your imagination. The key is to avoid juicy toppings. Today we added olive paste to the batter and topped the farinata with cheese.

You might also like to make Simple Farinata, and Farinata “Pizza”. Browse all of our Farinata recipes here. Or explore our Italian recipes here and here. We have other Chickpea Flour recipes here and here.

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Easy White Bean Salad | Easy Cannellini Bean Salad

This salad is ready in minutes

The ability to arrive home from work and throw together a salad or two to go with the main meal – or as a meal in itself – is something that we strive for with our modern “on the go” lifestyles. Using either canned beans or precooked beans that you have kept in the freezer, this salad is ready in minutes. Grab some cherry tomatoes and rocket (arugula) from the corner shop as you walk home from the bus stop, and you are good to go.

PS It is flavoursome too.

We have a wealth of salad recipes. You can browse them here. You might particularly like Carrot and Blueberry Salad, Grown up Potato Salad, and a Simple Celery Salad. Have a look at the recipes for Cannellini Beans. Or explore all of the Bittman Salads.

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Spiced Tomato Puree

Keep this in the freezer for the times you need tomato puree.

A gift of home grown organic tomatoes, a surfeit in fact, had me reaching for my heavy Italian style pans to make some spiced tomato puree.

The beauty of this dish is that it can be sealed into jars and kept in the fridge for a week or two, or frozen in containers or ziplock bags for later use. It is great with pasta or stirred into dishes – curries, vegetable stews, sauces, dressings, dips, soups etc.

It takes about 30 mins to prep and cook – it is great to make on a Sunday morning in that lazy atmosphere that envelops the house on this day. Read with a cuppa coffee while the sauce bubbles away on the stove.

This is a beautifully simply recipe. You might also like to try this one. It is one that I make and freeze in Autumn. See how to preserve tomatoes for Winter. Or explore all of our Tomato recipes here and here.

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