Thursday, March 26, 2015

"Spring" Escarole, White Bean & Tomato Soup (Plus a Giveaway!)

I know it's spring. But this "spring" we're having is more like 34 degrees/snow/rain/sweater/boots days that require soup/bread/stew/pasta nights. So I think it's perfectly acceptable to still be making soup. Especially when it is filled with greens and comforting white beans but still has a light enough tomato broth that you can get warmed up without really feeling like it's the dead of winter. It's a good "spring" soup, if there is such a thing.

The tomato/escarole/white bean combination is nothing new - I've been eating it since I was a kid, when my mom and grandmother started teaching my sister and I to have a great love for those curly greens, but I like this version since it's a bit lighter than your typical pasta fagiole. It's also quite quick and you can throw it together last minute if you use canned beans rather than dried beans.

It's also good for when you have a head of escarole sitting in your fridge that you ordered in your produce box with no plan for it and then forgot about it until it was near wilting to death, but you couldn't bear to throw it away so figured SOUP(!) was the way to go. It's good for those times too.

I served these particular bowls with crispy little baguette toasts since I happened to have some leftover bread in the freezer. But it would also go really well with fresh homemade whole wheat bread fresh out of the oven, or homemade biscuits, or these pesto scones (whiiiiich I am totally making this weekend).

The Giveaway!

But for this giveaway. So as I've mentioned before, I often use Tuttorosso tomatoes when I'm cooking Italian food because that's how my mama (and her mama) taught me. I buy almost 100% organic ingredients for our regular eating (if I can find it organic, I buy it organic), but canned tomatoes is one place where I will make an exception. If I'm not canning my own, I'm usually using Tuttorosso. And one lucky reader will win a gift pack of tomatoes and other goodies to make this recipe in your own kitchen!

All you need to do is leave a comment below, and you'll automatically be entered to win. I will randomly select a winner on April 16. You can get extra entries by liking Some Sugar Added on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - links are at the top of the blog (just leave an extra comment telling me you did so). The gift pack will include:

- Springtime tomato recipes
- 28 oz. Tuttorosso Crushed Tomatoes with Basil
- 28 oz. Tuttorosso NSA Peeled Plum Tomatos
- 28 oz. Tuttorosso Diced Tomatoes
- Inspiralized cookbook
- Tuttorosso coupons

Tuttorosso is actually also teaming up with Inspiralized (hello super easy zucchini noodles!) for another spring giveaway, which you can enter on Facebook here. That giveaway will include weekly prizes and a grand prize of Spiralizers, Inspiralized cookbooks, aprons, a picnic basket and kitchen gadgets. The contest will run through April 15. A free Spiralizer sounds awesome. Try your luck!

And now let's all pray to actually get some spring weather to go with our spring soups and veggie noodles.

Escarole, White Bean & Tomato Soup

1 head escarole, washed and torn
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. cracked black pepper
28 oz. can of plum tomatoes, broken up with your fingers (I use Tuttorosso, Muir Glen Organic or homemade)
2 cups white beans (if using dried beans, soak first; if using canned, rinse first)
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. coconut sugar (can sub cane sugar if you don't have coconut sugar)
1 cup vegetable broth

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat, then add escarole, garlic, salt and pepper. Saute about 5 minutes, until escarole is wilted and garlic is fragrant but not browned.

Add tomatoes, white beans, crushed red pepper, sugar and vegetable broth. Simmer 10-15 minutes. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Irish Recipe Roundup

So, next week is St. Patty's Day? I kind of totally forgot about it until a friend reminded me that Saturday was the annual Seaside St. Patrick's Day parade. Which on the one hand made me kind of sad because I used to love St. Patty's; we would go out with a huge group of friends all dressed in green, starting the festivities about 10 am and going all day on the boardwalk. But on the other hand, at the ripe age of 32 I really can't even imagine going out at 10 am and just the thought of the hangover that would surely follow (I can't hang for more than 2 glasses of wine these days) is enough to make me break out in a cold sweat. So, I guess I'm not really all that sad.

Matt was actually away snowboarding this weekend at a bachelor party, so my St. Patty's weekend consisted of baby & bridal shower planning, taking my little guy to see his first play (Puss In Boots, which he loved) and out to dinner, some backyard snow playing, and generally just hanging out with my babies and the family. Low key is all good with me.

BUT. Just because we don't do the all-day parade parties anymore doesn't mean we can't enjoy a Guinness or glass of good whiskey and a solid Irish meal. Clearly I myself won't be partaking in any corned beef & cabbage rituals, but Matt always picks some up at the butcher for him and Riker, and I usually whip up something green along with an Irish soda bread. Baked fish & chips also sometimes makes an appearance, since it's one of the things we ate the most when we went to Ireland a few years back and I love it.

If you're looking for a few ideas for your St. Patty's Day/week, here are a few of my favorites. I will say that my food philosophy has changed quite a bit in recent years as I learn more about food additives, pesticides, refining processes and the like, so these days I don't do much baking with refined ingredients - but you could always substitute coconut sugar for white sugar (it's a 1:1 ratio) and whole wheat flour for white flour. Use the recipes as-is or tweak to fit your life!

In order of courses:

(totally not Irish, but it's green so I sometimes make it anyway on St. Patty's)

Guinness Brownies with Irish Buttercream Frosting

If you have any good St. Patty's recipes, especially vegetarian ones, leave 'em in the comments!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Over the last few years pizza has become a beloved Friday night staple in our house. At least during the winter months. Every Friday there's a bit of a buzz in the house...we've made it through another work week, we have a whole weekend ahead of us, we can stay up a little later than usual tonight - letting Riker stay up past his bedtime to watch a family movie, and then putting the kids to bed to drink a bottle of wine and binge watch 4 more episodes of Orange is the New Black - and, there's pizza. There will almost always be pizza, and it will almost always be eaten on TV trays in the living room while watching a Disney flick. Because, Friday.

The pizza varies. On some Fridays we just really don't feel like cooking. The work week has been extra tiresome or the kids haven't been feeling well or I had to work late on Friday...or I just simply don't feel like cooking. I'd rather crack open a beer or pop the cork off a bottle of wine, relax and play with my babies for an extra hour while we wait for the delivery guy to come. On those days we call our local favorite, Tony's, and wait with anticipation for it to arrive (I admit, those days are Riker's favorite. "The PIZZA GUY IS COMING!").

But on other Fridays I like to make homemade pizza with all kinds of fun toppings. Like caramelized butternut squash, crispy kale, pomegranate seeds and fontina cheese.

Or like last Friday's masterpiece, garlic ricotta, balsamic caramelized onions, shaved Brussels sprouts and mozzarella. I absolutely adore Brussels sprouts on pizza, by the way. If you haven't tried it yet, do it. They get all crunchy and golden and delicious, and you can tell yourself that you don't need a salad on the side because your veggies are already on the pizza.

(For these less traditional pizzas, we always make Riker try a bite before letting on that I've made a regular sauce & cheese pizza for him as a backup. He loves green veggies so will usually eat half a slice before saying he doesn't want any more, which is when I bring out a regular slice for him.)

Pizza dough is so easy to make, and I usually make a batch big enough for two doughs so I can stash one in the freezer for another day. There is something so satisfying about making your own, and the taste is really, really good. This particular dough is nice because it's 100% whole wheat but it doesn't have a cardboard-like texture. It's a bit chewy and has a nice crunch on the bottom.

It's a blank canvas! Pizza Friday will take a hiatus this coming weekend since we're going to my in-laws' for dinner, but I've already planned out the Friday after that. Taco pizza. With homemade refried beans as the base. Friday, where are you?

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Makes 2 crusts

1 tsp. coconut sugar (can use regular sugar or honey if you don't have coconut sugar)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp. yeast
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 cups whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur Organic Whole Wheat)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and warm water and stir until dissolved. Sprinkle the yeast over the top, and let the mixture stand until foamy, about 5-10 minutes. Add the salt and olive oil to the yeast and stir to combine. Slowly pour the flour into the yeast mixture and stir, allow wet mixture to be absorbed before adding more. Continue mixing until the dough is combined. Form the dough into a ball.

Coat the inside of another large mixing bowl with some olive oil and place the ball of dough in the bowl; turn it once so the dough is oiled on all sides. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Divide the dough into 2 pieces; either wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at this stage, or roll out on a floured surface. Top, bake, enjoy!

When ready to make the pizza, bake it at 450 for about 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.