We don’t have cable tv – by choice. This means that despite my love for Ina Garten, I don’t watch her shows. What we do have is a Roku. This gives us access to Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu Plus where I can access Lidia’s Italy – which I love. In fact, my dear husbanders might love watching Lidia as much as me. Lidia Bastianich is awesome. Her show is about food and cooking, not competitions and not reality tv. No eliminations, no judges, and no weird camera angles. Just good food and good recipes. She teaches us about the foods from the different regions of Italy and how the food should look, smell, sound and taste as we cook it.
Lidia inspires me to try new ingredients and new techniques. Recently, I saw an episode featuring Acquacotta, which apparently means “cooked water.” I gave this recipe a shot and it was warm and hearty. I adapted the recipe and used kale instead of swiss chard. I skipped the grated pecorino to keep it a little healthier, but next time, I’m definitely going to include it. I think it would amp up the flavors. Since my dear husbandy was out of town when I cooked this up, I really couldn’t bear the thought of eating this for 3-4 nights in a row. So, I repurposed the soup and stretched it for 4 nights!
This leads to Eating in instead Tip #2: Stretch and Repurpose. If a busy life means you don’t have time to make a home cooked meal from scratch every night (who has this kind of time?), make big batches to stretch and repurpose leftovers. Soups and stews can be easy to stretch. Serve it with bread one night and over pasta another night. Turn grilled steak into sandwiches or tacos. Add left over chicken to a salad or quinoa. With Lidia’s Acquacotta di Alma, I enjoyed it with crusty bread per her original recipe the first night. On the second night, I dropped in a can of drained, rinsed kidney beans for protein and omitted the poached egg. On the third night, I added small pasta (dilatini) and had the soup with a side salad. On the fourth and final night, I mixed the leftover broth and kale with a tomato sauce and enjoyed it over some whole-wheat penne. In fact, I stretched this soup for so many nights, I didn’t end up making my slow cooker dal last week.
What is your favorite way to stretch or repurpose leftovers?
ACQUACOTTA (Adapted from Lidia Bastianich)
1 pound kale, washed, drained and roughly chopped (I bought this pre-washed and pre-cut to safe time!)
1 onion, cut into large chunks
2 stalks celery, trimmed, peeled and cut into 2-3 inch chunks
⅓ cup Italian parsley
8 fresh basil leaves
⅓ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
9 cups water
2-3 teaspoons salt, to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
eggs, (1 for each serving)
day-old country bread, (1/2 a slice per serving)
In the bowl of a food processor, add the onion, celery, parsley and basil. Pulse the mixture 8-10 times to create a fine paste.
In a large heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and add the herb paste. Stir the paste all around the bottom of the pan and let it steam, sizzle, and it will start to dry out, about 3-5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and stir. Make a small space in the pot and drop in the tomato paste and toast the paste for 15 seconds, then stir in the paste and continue cook for about 1 minute.
Once the soup is ready, ladle about 2 ½ cups of soup into a separate skillet. Heat the soup to a simmer, then crack open one egg at a time placing into the simmering soup. You can probably fit 2-3 eggs into the skillet at a time. Turn the heat down to low and cover tightly to allow the eggs to poach for 2 minutes or until your desired doneness.
To serve, place a slice of bread at the bottom of a soup bowl. Carefully, lift out the poached egg with a spoon or spatula and place on the bread. Ladle in the remaining soup from the large pot and serve!