So how has everyone been coping this week with the HOTTEST weather on record in the UK and much of Europe? Dark, cool rooms or being in or near water have been the answer, but sleeping at night has been tough hey? When it’s super hot, I never feel particularly hungry and I certainly don’t want to be cooking with heat by a stove/oven for that long. I gravitated towards making salads, and on Thursday (the hottest day ever) I made my Vietnamese chicken salad – well a fusion of two of my recipes in fact – this one and this one . It’s very straightforward and packed full of flavours and textures. It tasted cleansing and zingy with some good elements of crunch.
As crazy at it may sound when the going gets hot sometimes a soup – yes soup – can cool you down. You know how much I love soups and dals, and on our recent jaunt to Florence we ordered a Tuscan favourite – Ribollita – quite a few times when dining out. It’s a classic Tuscan dish that uses stale bread, tomatoes and my store cupboard favourite, white beans. It’s a meal in itself and gets the approval from the whole family so I thought I would make it my blog post for this week. I hope you like it. It’s a great year round recipe, so instead of just discarding stale bread try making this Tuscan classic instead.
Ribollita – a classic Tuscan dish
2 white onions, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 medium sized carrots, finely chopped
1 whole garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 wedge of parmesan rind (you know the end you normally want to throw away right)
2x400g can of good plum tomatoes
1 large handful of cavolo nero also known as Tuscan kale, roughly chopped
400g jar/tin of white beans
Approx 300g stale white bread (I like to use sourdough, but whatever you have to hand)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
70 ml of good extra virgin olive oil with extra to drizzle
salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
- First prepare the onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Place to one side
- Next remove the stalk from the kale by gliding your hand down the stalk to remove the leaves from the base of the stalk. Then roughly chop and place to one side.
- Cut up a wedge of parmesan rind and place to one side.
- Remove the plum tomatoes from the cans and strain, keeping the juice and then using your hand break up the plum tomatoes and place in a different bowl to the juice.
- Roughly tear by the bread.
- In a large pan – I find my trusty Le Crueset pan works really well for this type of meal – heat the oil and then add the onion, celery, carrots and garlic along with some salt. Allow to soften and the onions to become translucent but not brown.
- Add the plum tomatoes – still keep the juice to one side – and mix in thoroughly. Simmer for a further 10 minutes.
- Now add the parmesan rind, red pepper flakes, tomato juice and the strained white beans and stir in gently so that the flavours can infuse together.
- Add 1 litre of water and simmer.
- Now add half the cavolo nero and once wilted add the rest.
- Follow a similar step with the stale bread. When you have added the second batch of stale bread, add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and place in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
- Serve immediately with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top and some freshly grated parmesan cheese.