Before returning to Paris after the holidays, my mom gave me a minestrone mixture of different beans and grains and this weekend, with the weather in Paris being really wintery and cold, I had an urge to eat a big bowl of italian minestrone for dinner. Yumm! I had a bunch of veggies at home that I needed to use or else they would go bad, so the decision was easy. Minestrone it is! One of the tastes that remind me most of Italy is pesto. I love pesto. So simple and actually vegan and raw (if you don’t add parmigiano or pecorino to it). Perfect to keep in the fridge for a quick dinner with pasta al pesto or to use in salad dressings, soups or sauces. I didn’t have any basil in the fridge and I was too lazy to go to the grocery store, so I made this minestrone with kale pesto. Equally delicious and packed with nutrients that are good for you, I added it at the end of the cooking process to keep the taste freshly accentuated and give the minestrone a wonderful green color. Topped with some freshly grated parmigiano, I absolutely loved the result :-).
For the minestrone verde (serves 6-8 people)
250 g of minestrone mixture (beans, lentils, wild rice, millet…), store bought or prepared at home
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots
3 celery sticks
1 small broccoli (optional)
About 1,5 l of water
1 teaspoon of fresh or dried thyme
3-4 bay leaves
Salt flower and pepper to taste
100 g of kale
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Ideally, soak the mixture of beans and grains for at least two hours before cooking the minestrone. It will speed up the cooking process and help your body metabolize all the good nutrients much better. I soaked the mixture for five hours before starting the cooking process.
Cook the minestrone mixture in salted water for about 15 minutes, until the beans and grains are cooked half way. Strain and set aside.
Wash and prepare all the vegetables – dice the carrots, celery and turnip in pieces that are about the same size. This way, they will cook equally and also look pretty. Cut the broccoli flowers and discard the large and hard stem.
In a bigger pot heat the tablespoon of olive oil and add the finely chopped onion, stirring constantly for a few minutes. Add the diced carrots, celery and turnip and continue stirring regularly for a few minutes. Add the broccoli flowers and the mixture of beans and grains. Stir for another few minutes and add the water to cover the mixture completely. Season with salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaves. Cover the pot and cook for about 15 minutes over low heat.
In the meantime, prepare the kale pesto by simply putting the kale leaves, two tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic gloves in a mixer and mixing until obtaining a smooth mixture. The pesto can be made with basil, kale, spinach or arugula – whatever you like or have in your fridge.
When the vegetables and beans/grains are cooked, turn off the heat and add the pesto. If needed, adjust the taste with some additional salt and/or pepper. Transfer to bowls and top with freshly grated parmigiano or pecorino cheese. Both are delicious and will marry very well with the taste of this minestrone.