Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mix-and-Match a Minestrone

Minestrone fulfills two of my major cooking needs: 1) you can make it entirely from ingredients you already have and 2) it doesn't require a recipe.

As long as there are some kind of tomatoes in the house, I will attempt to make minestrone. (And I haven't tried it yet, but I am not 100 percent sure that ketchup does not count as tomatoes.)

1. Cook your aromatics (any combination of onions, shallots, leeks, celery, and carrots) in oil in a large pot.

2. Add long-cooking vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, turnips, parsnips).

3. Add some kind of tomatoes (fresh, canned, paste, jarred pasta sauce) and some kind of broth (from a can, box, cubes, or even just water).

4. Add quick-cooking vegetables (zucchini, corn, green beans, broccoli, cabbage, kale, collards).

5. Add starches (cooked beans, cooked barley, uncooked rice, uncooked pasta).

The trick is really just to add the ingredients in approximate order of how much cooking time they need, so everything gets done at the same time.

Add whatever seasonings you like (I totally phoned it in this time with a jar of "Italian seasoning") and salt and pepper. Serve with grated cheese (traditionally Parmesan) on top.

This particular incarnation was leeks + celery + carrots + purple potatoes + butternut squash + canned chopped tomatoes + vegetable broth + cabbage + white beans + barley, and it made a serious dent in accumulated CSA vegetables.

(If fast and loose is not for you, here is a very serious approach to minestrone making, with beautiful photos.)

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