New Take on Minestrone

This may be the first time I’ve ever followed an actual recipe for minestrone. I know the basic ingredients and have just combined things until I was satisfied with the results.

Living up to my resolution to try a recipe from one of my untested cookbooks, I came upon “Minestrone with Pesto” in The Low Cholesterol Olive Oil Cookbook. Dating back to 1990, this book was published during the years when low fat and low cholesterol were the watchwords on everyone’s mind. Thinking has changed on many aspects of fat consumption, but olive oil remains high on the list of good, healthy fats.

I chose this recipe because of its emphasis on vegetables, and also because it has a water base. I have a tendency to use chicken broth, and am interested in finding recipes that rely on water. To be fair, I added a few things to heighten the flavor, but the basic recipe remains intact.


1/4 cup mild flavored olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped canned tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped cabbage
1 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 cup diced potato
1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
4 cups water
pesto for serving (or simply add 2 TBS to soup)
grated Parmesan for serving
salt (2 tsp.) freshly ground pepper (1/2 tsp.)
garlic powder (1 tsp.) red pepper flakes (1/8-1/4 tsp.)
optional addition: 1 cup shredded cooked chicken


1. Heat olive oil in a soup pot. Saute onion until tender.
2. Add tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, zucchini, potatoes, and mushrooms. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Saute briefly to combine flavors.
3. Add water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, but keep at a gentle boil. Cook, covered, for about 20 minutes until vegetables are tender.
4. Add chicken, if using. Heat through. You could stir in the pesto at this point, or add it on each individual serving.


The original recipe recommend adding salt “if desired.” My opinion is that salt is critical. The garlic powder and red pepper flakes were my addition as well. Some additional tomato paste might be good next time.

Not including the pasta and beans found in many minestrones cuts down on the calories to be sure. Beans might have added nutritional value. I added the chicken for protein (and because I had it on hand.)


Posted in recipe | Leave a comment

Sweet Memory


In the blink of an eye,
slow wandering
down an ancient alley
in St. Thomas,
the warmth of sunshine,
the scent of the sea,
the joyful nod
of scarlet flowers
in the breeze, 
all relegated to memory.
Sweet reminiscence
adding needed cheerfulness 
to our New England landscape, 
still locked in
winter’s unyielding  grasp.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Simple Quiche

Quiche can be a wonderfully rich, cream laden, bacon enhanced special occasion treat. It can also be a simple, vegetable based weekday dish.

I make quiche quite a bit. It’s great to have a fully cooked item in the refrigerator that can be sliced, popped in the toaster oven, and ready for a quick breakfast, lunch, or dinner in a matter of minutes.

When I was looking through the Morning Glory Farm cookbook, I came across a recipe for “Morning Glory Quiche” that came close to the basic formula that I’ve used for years. Their recipe includes a cup of any sautéed combination of vegetables. That has always been my rule as well. They call for a cup of Swiss cheese. I tend to use whatever I have on hand. They use a homemade crust. That’s a good thing, but keeping it simple, a prepared crust in an aluminum pan (Mrs. Smith’s is good) works just fine.

Reading the cookbook inspired me to make this quiche today.

Frozen deep dish pie crust, defrosted
1 to 1 1/2 cups of pre-cooked vegetables. Today, I used spinach, onions, and mushrooms.
1 C shredded cheese
4 eggs
1 C milk ( whole, 2% or 1% )

1. Saute whatever vegetables you like. I’ve used onions, mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, asparagus in various combinations. Add some chopped ham or bacon if you wish.
Tip: Blot the veggies with a paper towel to get rid of excess moisture.
2. Cool the vegetables somewhat. Spread them in the pie shell.
3. Spread the shredded cheese (whatever kind you like) over the vegetables.
4. Whisk the eggs and milk together. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Pour the egg/milk mixture over the vegetables and cheese.
6. Cook until set. This should take about 45 minutes in a pre-heated 375 oven.

Your quiche can be as simple as ham and American cheese or a combination of onions, mushrooms, spinach with Gruyere or cheddar, or Swiss cheese. The technique is the same. It’s all good!



Posted in recipe | Leave a comment

Soup of the Day

The wild winds and rain that buffeted the Cape yesterday have eased somewhat. I’m still conscious of the sound of the wind as I write this, but the rain has stopped. It’s a soup day for sure.

Adhering to my goal of trying new recipes from old familiar cookbooks, I found a recipe for “Pasta and Cauliflower Soup” in The Romagnolis Table (1975.) Actually found more than a recipe. There was an introduction to the soup section that I never remember reading before. It detailed the different types of soup that might be found on the Italian table. I learned a few new terms.

Minestre refers to soups in general. A broth base with meat and or vegetables. They often combine rice or pasta with a vegetable. Minestrine are light broth soups. These  are fairly light and delicate. Minestroni, on the other hand, are the big vegetable soups (or zuppa) that many of us are familiar with.

Today, I made a Minestre. I adapted the recipe a bit, using half chicken stock instead of all water. I also added a diced onion and a few shakes of red pepper flakes. The original recipe was listed as”Pasta E Broccoli” because it’s a Roman soup, and according to these authors, cauliflower is usually called broccoli in Rome.


1 small head of cauliflower
1 medium onion
1/2 C olive oil
1 garlic clove
2 TBS tomato paste
2 1/2 quarts hot water or a combination of broth and water
1 potato sliced paper thin
2 tsp. salt
1/2 pound of pasta (spaghetti broken into 1 inch pieces or orzo
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
Grated Parmesan for serving


1. Break the cauliflower into small flowerets. Dice the onion. Mince the garlic.
2. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the cauliflower, onion, and garlic. Season with some salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a couple of shakes of red pepper flakes. Toss to coat with the olive oil. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat to soften the vegetables a bit.
3. Add the tomato paste, water (broth,) the potato, and 2 tsp. salt. Bring to a steady boil.
4. Add the pasta. Boil until the pasta is fully cooked and the flavors have combined. You may have to adjust the seasoning.
5. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese.

Posted in recipe | Leave a comment

Comfort Food


I followed a recipe for meatloaf last night. It was good, but it just didn’t seem right somehow. It caused me to think about meatloaf in general. It’s comfort food. And personal. My guess is that most cooks have their own version of meatloaf that their families accept as the way it should be.

My meatloaf has evolved over the years. The current version is half vegetable. I usually have leftover roasted vegetables in the refrigerator that I simply dice. If I don’t, I’ll chop some onions, peppers, mushroom, carrots (whatever I have) into a fine dice and sauté the mix in a little olive oil until softened. This emphasis on vegetables eliminates half of the meat and produces a lighter, healthier dish.
This could certainly be doubled for a larger meatloaf.


1/2 pound hamburger
1 scant tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup Panko
2 TBS milk
1/2 cup roasted (or sautéed ) vegetables, chopped
2 TBS ketchup
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. ground sage ( or your choice of herb )
1/4 tsp. dry thyme (or your choice of herb)
1 egg


1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix lightly, but well.
2. Form into a loaf on a sheet pan covered with foil or parchment.
3. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Note: I’ve posted a similar recipe using spiralized vegetables. Spiralizing is simply one technique for prepping the vegetables, Shredding and chopping works just as well.


Posted in recipe | Leave a comment

Pasta, Beans, and Broccoli Rabe

I have 154 cookbooks. I actually visited various bookcases in our house the other day and counted them. The interesting thing is that I’ve read them all, but have rarely followed any of the recipes. I’ve decided to challenge myself, and choose a recipe from a random book once or twice a week, and make something new.

Last night, with a nod to Meatless Monday, I chose a recipe from Susan Feniger’s Street Food. I remember really enjoying reading this book when I purchased it. It’s part travelogue with entertaining stories and beautiful photography. But, running true to form, until last night, I had never cooked anything from the book.

I adapted her recipe for Ditalini Pasta with Roman Broccoli, White Beans, and Pecorino. Susan Feniger’s original recipe starts with dry white beans. I opted for a can of Goya small white beans. Roman Broccoli is another name for Broccoli Rabe.


1 can (15 oz.) small white beans
1 rib of celery
1 carrot
1 small onion
Kosher salt, garlic powder
Bunch of Broccoli Rabe
1/4 cup, plus 2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS chopped garlic (about 6 cloves)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups Ditalini pasta
1/2 cup grated Pecorino romano cheese
juice of 1/2 lemon


1. Pour the beans into a colander and rinse well.
2. Chop the celery, carrot and onion into small dice.
3. Saute the celery, carrot, onion in a little olive oil until softened. Season with salt and some garlic powder.
4. Add the beans to the vegetables. Mix together and heat to combine. Set aside.
5. Remove the thick ends from the broccoli rabe. Rinse well and chop into approximately two inch pieces.
6. Put it into a heavy bottomed pot. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, chopped garlic, cayenne pepper, 1 tsp. salt. Stir well. Cover the pot and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
7. After 15 minutes, add the additional 2 TBS olive oil and 3 TBS water. Stir and cover the pot. Cook for 8 more minutes. Turn off the heat. Leave the pan covered for an additional 10 minutes.
8. Boil the pasta in salted water according to package directions.
9. To serve, combine the pasta, beans and broccoli rabe. Add the cheese and lemon juice. Toss to combine.

We’ve decided that this recipe is a definite keeper that will be added to the Meatless Monday rotation.

Posted in General Musing, recipe | Leave a comment

Early Morning Sunlight



a splash of sunlight

life affirming beckoning
start of a new day

Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment