The holidays are over and we've all overindulged .  A great way to save money and still enjoy nutritious and delicious food is to eat like a Greek or Italian farmer.

Depending on the region, farmers would typically eat some sort of legume beans, lentils, chick peas, fava beans which are loaded with protein, iron, calcium and fibre. In addition they had a variety of whole grains to choose from, like barley, oats, cracked wheat, brown rice or corn.  To top it off, they had countless varieties of wild greens that they plucked from the  mountains (or gardens) in Greece they predominately ate and cooked with olive oil and tons of garlic. 

Heres a great recipe that illustrates this farmers diet beautifully.     

Navy Bean and Shell Pasta Soup with Kale Pesto

 

In Italy they would call this pasta e fagioli and in Greece it would be called fassolatha, I just call it delicious.  Feel free to use whatever kind of bean you like best and toss in any vegetable you may have on hand. This is  perfect meatless option that can be rotated into our weekly menus served simply with a crusty piece of whole grain bread.

30 ml (2 Tbsp.) olive oil   

1 large onion, chopped

2 leeks, white part only, sliced

3 small cloves garlic, sliced

2 bay leaves

3 springs fresh thyme

2 stalks celery, sliced

2 medium carrots, cut in half lengthwise and sliced

2 L (8 cups) low sodium chicken stock 

125 ml(1/2 cup) dried navy beans*(soaked for 4-6 hours) or 1 can 540 ml(19 oz) low sodium canned,                 drained and rinsed 

  175 ml (¾ cup) small spelt or whole grain shell pasta

 Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Pesto

 

1 large bunch curly kale, washed, stems removed

1 small clove garlic, crushed

80 ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil

 

For soup :

In a large pot, heat olive oil over high heat.  Add the onion and leeks. Saute for 3-4 minutes or until soft.  Add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, carrots and celery and cook for a further 3 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently.  Add the stock (and soaked beans, if not using canned) and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce to low heat.  Simmer until beans are tender, but still have a bite to them, about 20-25 minutes.  Add the pasta shells and cracked black pepper.  Cover again and increase heat to medium high.  Cook for a further 7-9 minutes or until pasta is tender.  Add the pesto and stir. Remove from heat. 

 

For Pesto:

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

Serve soup sprinkled with a Tablespoon of grated parmesan, if desired.

Serves 6-8       

*Note: if using canned beans, drain, rinse and add them along with the pasta.   

For more tips about healthy eating, click here : http://www.youtube.com/user/ChristineCushing?feature=watch

 

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