Food for Thought – Get your Sheffield Ribollita on
Exposed foodie blogger Helen Davies offers the first of the month’s recipes for great value, healthy student food.
This is my northern version of an Italian classic – full of flavour, cheap and plentiful, and very good for you.
There are no hard and fast rules to a Ribollita – it’s basically a chunky vegetable and bean soup with a pesto drizzle and some bread to mop up the juices, and the beauty of this dish is that you can adjust the quantities and mix up the veg according to what you have. No knife-skills required – the charm is all in the rough chop! It will keep in the fridge for several days and reheats brilliantly.
Adding chickpeas and beans ups the protein content which is just what’s needed to keep our brain healthy and get a good night’s sleep.
Pesto and croutons, while not essential, take it to another level.
Ingredients (enough for 4-6 folk)
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, minced or chopped
3 carrots, roughly chopped
2 potatoes roughly chopped
1 heaped teaspoon of dried mixed herbs and a couple of bay leaves (if you have them)
Chilli (fresh or dried)
1 aubergine and 2 courgettes (or you could replace with squash), roughly chopped
4 tomatoes (or a tin of tomatoes)
3 tablespoons of tomato puree
1.5 litres of chicken or vegetable stock
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
1 x 400g tin of beans (pinto, cannellini, butter, kidney, black), drained
2 big handfuls of spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
Pesto and a job lot of easy-peasy and impressive home-made croutons (see below) or any bread to mop up the juices
Do it like this
Put a big pan on the hob with a few glugs of oil (olive or vegetable) and heat for a few minutes. Add the onion and cook for five minutes until starting to soften. Next, the garlic, carrots, potato, chilli and herbs and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.
Throw in all your other veg except for the spinach and allow to cook for a few minutes.
Next add the stock and tomato puree and bring back to a hearty simmer.
Finally, in go the chickpeas and beans and leave to simmer gently for about an hour. Check for taste after about half an hour – add salt and pepper and, if you think it needs it, more tomato puree and chilli. Continue simmering until all the veg is cooked through. Add the spinach about 10 minutes before serving.
You’re done. Use it today, tomorrow, freeze it, reheat it, do as you please.
Serve with some crusty bread and a drizzle of pesto over the top. Reyt Bellissimo.
If you are feeling really cheffy, turn your bread into these easy-peasy croutons. You won’t regret it.
Just cut or rip your bread into hearty chunks (if the bread is a bit stale, even better). Put in a shallow roasting tin and toss in olive oil and salt. Bake in a hot oven at about 200’C – keep an eye on them and shake often. You want them dry and crispy on the outside with a bit of give on the inside.