One of the things I love so much about Italy is how Italians cook. They prepare dishes from seasonal foods while making use of everything they have. They don’t waste food and they have smart, creative ways to make use of leftovers.
La Cucina Povera is a term that Italians use to describe this type of cooking. It means The Poor Kitchen.
Some of the best Italian recipes were and still are created this way.
Often, when faced with an empty pantry the day before my scheduled market visit – I need to get creative. I don’t like to waste food or money for that matter.
Last week, I had some left over chard staring me in the face as well as about 50 assorted cans of beans picked up at a recent Can-Can Sale.
I figured that someone out in Internet Land must have an Italian recipe utilizing these ingredients.
And I was correct.
Enter Joe Bastianch and Food and Wine Magazine.
I used the recipe as inspiration for my dish, but since I rarely follow a recipe to the T while cooking I just winged it. I’ll give you an overview, but you can find the actual recipe here.
This is a simple, quick, healthy dinner – a perfect cold-weather meal for vegetarians. And it’s very budget friendly, which is so important these days.
I was also very surprised that this tasted as good as it did. It just goes to show you that you don’t need a complicated ingredient deck to wind up with a hearty, delicious dish.
Quick White Bean, Chard and Tomato Stew
What you’ll need:
Swiss chard, larger stems removed, and leaves roughly chopped
a few glugs of extra-virgin olive oil
a few thinly sliced garlic cloves
a pinch of crushed red pepper
1 cup canned chopped or diced tomatoes
1 16-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper
What to do:
1. Throw the chard in a pot of boiling water. Turn the heat down and simmer till nicely wilted. Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, pour olive oil in a Dutch Oven and turn the heat to medium. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for about a minute, making sure it doesn’t burn.
3. Add the tomatoes, turn up the heat . When mix reaches a boil, toss in the beans. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.
4. Reduce heat again to a simmer and add the wilted chard. Cook for 5 minutes.
5. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in bowls topped with a good amount of grated Parmesan cheese.