Warm food for cool weather!

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On our way back from our last trip to Rome we stopped in Pietra Santa and got snacks for the last leg of the trip north. I couldn’t resist. I bought two huge bunches of Cavolo Nero (Tuscan Black Cabbage). It’s the only kind of cabbage that my husband will eat and it makes a marvelous addition to any version of Tuscan white bean soup.

Serves 2 for 3 days. Beans taste good refried in lard and wrapped in flour tortillas or spread on crunchy multigrain toast.
500 grams (appx. 1 pound) Cannellini beans
         (soaked overnight in water to cover)
120 grams (or appx. 1 cup) cubed Pancetta Affumicato
         or Apple Smoked Bacon 
(note: if you want to make this vegetarian, omit the bacon, sauté the vegetables in olive oil and then add 2 or 3 large pieces of Parmesan cheese rind when you add the water)
Minced but kept separate:
1 medium yellow onion
2 small shallots
2 ribs celery
2 medium carrots
Splash of white wine
5 cups water, vegetable or chicken broth
2 big sprigs fresh whole sage
4 big sprig fresh whole rosemary minced fine (2 tbs minced)
4 fresh (or 4 dried) bay laurel leaves
2 small sprigs fresh savory or 1 tsp. dried
4 cloves garlic smashed with the broad side of a knife
3 cups roughly chopped cavolo nero (Tuscan black cabbage) or Collard Greens
½ cup tomato sauce or on 12oz can of diced tomato
Extra virgin olive oil and Parmesan cheese as garnish
Fry pancetta or bacon in bottom of a large stockpot until browned, add minced onion and shallot, sauté until soft. Add carrot, sauté 2 min add celery and sauté until celery is soft and all of it has caramelized in the bottom of the pan, deglaze with a splash of white wine.
Add water or broth, herbs, and garlic together with drained beans to the stockpot atop the bacon and minced vegetables. Bring to a boil and then return to a low simmer for 1-1/2 hours adding water if necessary. When beans are almost tender add the leafy greens and cook for another 30 min and then add ½ cup tomato sauce or can of tomatoes and salt to taste.  Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
Next up: an attempt to make casoulet a l’italienne with the leftovers!

By bonniemcclellan

Mother, poet, american ex-pat from Texas living in Northern Italy.

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