I’ve been on a huge Italian/French binge recently, with the international departure of a dear Friend, welcomed into Nice, France. Since, the house has been filled with wine and delicious home cooked foodstuffs, after a terrifying three week anti-cook-a-thon. After three weeks of cucumber sandwiches (not even homemade mayonnaise, I’m telling you, HELLISH things occurred), I have re-discovered my kitchen, and consequentially, the supermarket. You’ve never seen a more pretentious shopping cart in your whole life.
Okay, the neat thing is, I recently signed up on a website that my friend Rob introduced me to, called Interpals. It’s a website for finding friends from around the world, moreover, penpals, and much to my intrigue, language exchange. So, I’ve been dabbling in Italian and French for a couple of weeks now! Better yet, I’ve been talking with people from the region in Italy where my relatives came from, and have been learning a LOT about the local cuisine there. The neatest thing is, I recognize a lot of the dishes! Things I’ve had before are appearing before my eyes as local dishes from Abruzzo/Molise! A moment of enlightenment and redemption. Fuck your Eat, Pray, Love. This is MINE.
Also, it’s getting real cold. Hearty is my best friend right now. Here’s a nice soup. I could eat this forever, honestly. Jon’s review: “Oh my god, this IS a winner!!!”
Minestra con lenticchi, capicola, verdi e gemelli
(Soup with lentils, capicola, greens and gemelli pasta)
(and Pall Malls. Enjoy them.)
2 cups tomato sauce (I used a homemade batch from a few days before, marinara, I guess)
6 cups water or chicken stock
1/2 cup thinly sliced Capicola sausage (spicy, dried, you’ll find it in the gourmet cheese section)
2 cups Swiss Chard (or whatever green you like!), thinly but coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried brown lentils
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
1 tsp dried basil, or a small bunch of fresh, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 – 1 1/2 cups dried gemelli pasta, or whatever suits your tastes. I originally wanted to use Cavatelli, but couldn’t find it.
Super simple. This recipe relies on the fact that you’re starting with pre-made (hopefully homemade) tomato sauce. If you’re not using homemade, one of the in-store jarred abominations will suffice just as well, I think! Personally, if you’re going that route, I really like Bravo, and think it would align itself well with this recipe.
So, first put your tomato sauce in a medium-large cooking pot. Stir in water until they are homogeneous, and bring to a simmer. Add all ingredients except Gemelli, and let simmer, covered but lid askew, over medium-low heat until lentils are tender. Turn up heat and bring to a bit of a boil (add a little water if you think it’s getting too thick – your decision regarding how thick you want the soup), add Gemelli and let simmer, stirring here and there, until it’s cooked to al dente, or whatever your preference is for cooking pasta. Make sure it’s seasoned to your liking, top with a fine grating of Romano, e MANGIARE!