On cold winter evenings my thoughts turn to warm comfort foods and red wine. I like to keep my pantry stocked with staples like dried beans, barley, an array of herbs,various concentrated soup stocks and a good selection of pasta in the event I just can’t deal with the thought of venturing out into the freezing city streets.Tonight was just one of those nights when I had an intense craving for a bit of warm comfort on my plate and in my glass.
I created this recipe a few years ago by combining a few things I had in the fridge left over from a Sunday roast chicken dinner combined with the normal vegetable staples that I always have in the crisper. It’s an incredible belly filling feast served alone or with the addition of some warm Italian bread and a Caesar Salad.
The wine pairing for the evening was an Antico Colle Rosso di Montepulciano 06! The notes of leather, earth, herb and black cherry in the wine went perfectly with the spicy sausage, rosemary and rich savory broth. Rosso di Montepulciano is an Italian DOC located in Tuscany using the Sangiovese grape(min 70%), Canaiolo Nero (up to 20%), other local varietals excluding aromatics (up to 20%) and up to 10% addition of white grapes allowed. This is not to be confused with the wine of Abruzzo region using the Montepulciano grape that is aptly named Montepulciano d’Abruzzo!
I lit a few funky vintage drip candles for that old world trattoria feel and feasted upon a bowl of aromatic awesome goodness longing for warmer days and a stroll in an Italian vineyard.
White Bean and Chick Pea Rustic Stew
8 oz each dried small white beans and chick peas soaked overnight in warm water
1 large onion diced
2 small zucchini diced
2 celery stalks diced
2 medium carrots diced
2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
6 baby bella mushrooms
2 cups baby spinach cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped fine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
3 hot sausages cooked and chopped into medium chunks
1/2 roasted chicken-pull meat off bone reserving bones(rotisserie chicken works great for this!)
2 bay leaves
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
3 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Simmer reserved bones in chicken stock for 20 min., discard bones and set aside. Saute onion, zucchini, celery, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, rosemary and parsley in olive oil on low heat in large stock pot for 5 min stirring occasionaly till soft but not browned. Add spinach and cook for 1 min more.
Add reserved stock, water, drained beans and chick peas, sausage, chicken and bay leaf to cooked vegetables and simmer for 2 hours stirring occasionally till beans and chick peas are soft.
I like this stew rather thick. If you prefer a thinner version add some additional stock or water to desired consistency. Top with grated pecorino romano or asiago cheese and a dollop of pureed roasted red peppers. I also like to add some crushed red pepper to taste to punch it up a bit! This stew is even better the next day after flavors have melded but you may have to thin out broth a bit.
Set your table with a red checkered table cloth, play some Italian music and invite some friends over to enjoy a bowl of belly filling richness Tuscan style….