Minestrone, a thick Italian soup is one of my favorite. Minestrone is so easy to make and the best part is that you can add any seasonal veggies. A perfect weekday one pot meal which can be had with a nice crusty bread. It can be prepared well in advance and refrigerated up to a week. I had mine for two consecutive days after long working hours.
There is no real recipe for this thick soup. The basic thumb rule is to use lots of veggies, beans and pasta or rice. I’ve used kale & mushroom to give a different twist to my soup. I’ve also used black rice pasta which not only adds color to my pasta but also makes my soup gluten free. This recipe can also be vegan if garnished with some nutritional yeast flakes as a substitute for vegan cheese. I’ve used some local artisan Parmesan coming all the way from Auroville.
Jamie Oliver gives some handy tips on prepping up for minestrone.
1 packet mushroom (250gms), chopped finely
50 gms kale, stems removed & chopped finely
1 small red onion, chopped finely
2 tomatoes, skin removed, de seeded and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup cooked black eyed beans
1 cup uncooked black rice pasta
1/2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
500 ltr water
salt & pepper to taste
pesto & cheese for serving
- Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan. Add garlic and chopped onions. Sauté until translucent.
- Add chopped mushroom, kale, water & salt. Allow it to cook on medium flame for about 15 minutes.
- Add chopped tomatoes and uncooked pasta. Cook for about 10 minutes.
- Add cooked black eyed peas, oregano, freshly ground pepper and some salt if needed. Let it simmer for 10 minutes.
- Serve hot in individual bowls with a dollop of homemade pesto swirled through and some grated Parmesan.
More about black rice pasta & nutritional yeast flakes.
I will be talking about two products in my first post on featured products for this month –
1.Black rice pasta
2.Nutritional yeast flakes (vegan cheese)
1. Black rice pasta
This pasta is unfamiliar in India and is completely gluten-free and vegan. It also suits people who avoid wheat completely in their diet. Well for me it was the colour and the curiosity that made me taste the product 🙂
Cooking time is same as any other pasta. However, it does change the colour of the water unlike other pastas. The pasta turns dark purple when cooked. I found the aroma to be sweet and the texture reminds me a lot of ragi or nachini. The pasta is different than other pastas not only in taste and texture but tends to be sticking in nature. Don’t forget to drizzle some olive oil after straining and avoid over cooking.
Black rice is commonly used in China. It has high level of antioxidants that help fight cancer, heart disease and even diabetics. I found an interesting article describing black rice as a “superfood”.
There is also something known as squid ink pasta which is a coloured pasta made by adding an extract from squids. Do not confuse the black pasta with squid ink pasta though they may look black in colour.
Any type of sauce will go with the black rice pasta. Since the pasta has it’s own flavour and taste unlike other pastas, you can even serve it plain drizzled with some olive oil, pesto and some nuts or make a simple tomato sauce or bechamel sauce.
2.Nutritional Yeast Flakes (vegan cheese)
Nutritional yeast is not only rich in protein but is also nut free and soy free. It is not only vegan but gluten- free also. It is a powerhouse of nutrients and especially rich in B-complex (benefits of B-complex & B12).
Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes. It is often used by vegans in place of cheese. Nutritional yeast can also used by vegetarians who are conscience of animal rennet being used during cheese making process.
Nutritional yeast is made from sugar beet molasses and is different from sugarcane molasses. The molasses is fermented and dried. Do not confuse it to be active dry yeast or baking yeast.
It is a great substitute for cheese. Couple of tablespoons of nutritional yeast can enhance your gravies, soups, pastas, popcorn or any vegan dishes. I also found some good information about nutritional yeast here.