I would argue that it’s the most glorious week of the year, this space between holidays, and I can feel myself grasping at it with my fingertips trying to hold on to every minute. These are reflective days, don’t you think?
I hope you’ve had good holidays and, while some years that’s easier than others, I hope at least you’re staying steady and asking for what you need.
I’m trying to take rest and trying to chill the part of my brain that wants to stack up goals and tasks for the year ahead because, rest first PLEASE.
Ribollita is a thick Tuscan stew – dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil, thickened with day-old bread. It is hearty, filling, infinitely nourishing, and flat-out, the sort of food I crave. The amount of kale you collapse into each pot is impressive, and you’ll be patting yourself on the back before, during, and after you eat. Here are the details – it’s a soup I make constantly this time of year.
I should mention, with ribollita, it’s one of those things where there are as many ways to make it as there are cooks. I normally use whole canned tomatoes this time of year – torn up. But had crushed tomatoes on hand, and they worked out nicely. You can use canned beans, beans cooked from dried, or cooked beans you’ve frozen and thawed. As far as guidelines go? Your ribollita should be thick – eventually. A sloppy sounding, bread stew. Use day old bread, preferably a rustic loaf cut (or torn) into big chunks. The bread absorbs the broth and simmers into beautifully plump zones of pillowy dumplings.
This isn’t a difficult soup to cook, although it does require some chopping. If you’re looking for a few ways to shave off some prep time. Use canned beans, and buy pre-washed & chopped kale.
Ribollita adaptations & toppings
There are a bunch! In addition to the tweaks I mentioned up above, I suspect a number of you will want to know how to make it GF. Yes, you can absolutely make it without the bread. it’s not the same stew, and not really ribollita, but it is still wonderful – just bump up the amount of beans you use (both the whole & mashed). I like to add a bit of lemon zest to each bowl for a bit of brightness, and because I can’t help myself. And I also like the saltiness of a few olives alongside the kale, so that’s a little bonus as well. I’ll also drizzle a little thinned out pesto on top if I have it on hand, or, an herb oil made by pureeing olive oil, a couple garlic cloves, parsley, and marjoram together.
This is a freezer friendly stew. I like to make an extra-large pot of it, let it cool, and transfer it to freezer-safe containers. It’s good for a month or so frozen. If I know it’s a pot primarily bound for the freezer, I sometimes hold off on adding the bread. I’ll add it when I reheat later. But really, you can do it either way.
I hope you love this, and I hope you make it. It has all the good stuff in one pot. Enjoy! -h
Continue reading Ribollita – The Tuscan Stew you Should be Eating Regularly on 101 Cookbooks
Did you learn how to cook anything new this year? Anna Hezel, senior editor at Taste (one of my favorite breakout food publications of the last couple years) asked this on Twitter last week and like a Muppet to the ABCs, I couldn’t resist jumping in. I’m glad I did. I always wish I had more time to cook all the things I want to cook (my To Cook list is still thousands deep), wish I could share more recipes more often here, but this caused me to look back at the new recipes here in 2018 and feel a murmur of pride. Look at all we did! I learned to make falafel, and that it’s shockingly easy! I got to make Pad Thai I crave the most at home. We got cacio e pepe just about foolproof at home, just when I was convinced I never would. I learned about melting potatoes. We made the sheet pan sandwiches of my dreams and they’re vegan too. We had a real talk about the InstantPot and got some delicious short ribs out of it. I learned to make the best apple pie I’ve ever had. I made a completely bonkers layered mocha cheesecake late in the day on my husband’s birthday, and last week we mashed up baklava and babka, just because we could. I look at all of this and I am so excited about the year we’ve had, many of these things I had barely dreamed up yet this time last year, and I hope next year is even better.
And now, a brief moment of sap: Getting to hang out here, indulging my culinary whims, and having a cheering and encouragement squad had been one of great surprises and delights of my so-called adult life. Who knew what I’d do when I grew up? Certainly not me. I bumbled along, I tried things I hated, I tried things I didn’t hate but felt no passion for, and one day I landed here and, to my surprise, am rarely asked to leave. I am so thankful you are here and since I am not tired of cooking, I hope you never get tired of reading.
So tell me: Did you learn how to cook anything new this year?
Meanwhile, here are your Smitten Kitchen favorites from this year:
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For a good part of the year I have rosemary floating about the kitchen. It’s typically crowded in a wide-mouth jar, standing stick-straight, quietly waiting to be called upon. Sometimes it sits on the windowsill here, other times it migrates to the island, or, on rare occasions, the dinner table. I tend to buy a bunch, then work my way through it little by little (you’ve likely seen it in the background of photos on previous posts). Said another way – rosemary is often in my line of sight, and I’m always looking for ways to use it. This cocktail caught my attention a couple weeks back, and I’ve been making my own citrus-spiked riff on it in the days since.
So…my initial idea was that I’d do a winter citrus version using freshly-squeezed pink grapefruit juice, gin, and tonic water or sparkling water. I thought the evergreen notes in the gin would blend nicely with the tart pucker of grapefruit, and I’d take the edge off with a hint of rosemary syrup.
Not meant to be.
I walked into a box of beautiful Moro blood oranges at the store, and here we are. The blood orange juice worked beautifully, it added a lovely burst of color, and generally lent itself agreeably to what ended up being a long, bright, winter-time quencher. One that goes down a bit too easily, in fact. As I mention down below, if blood oranges are hard for you to come by, this drink is great with navel oranges as well. I mean it when I say, I hope you like this one as much as I do.
I kept thinking the gin / citrus combo would make for a striking DIY cocktail set-up at a holiday party, or New Year’s brunch /gathering. Particularly if you offered a selection of juice mixers. I’m imagining small glass pitchers of blood orange juice, pink grapefruit juice, orange juice, oro blanco grapefruit juice, and or sweet lime juice? It would be a beautiful spectrum. Let me know if you give it a go.
Asking me to pick my favorite Special Sauce episodes of the year is like asking a father to choose his favorite child. In many ways, I love every Special Sauce equally. Why? For the same reasons I love Serious Eats as a whole: I like putting together a strong team and watching each member do their thing.