Foodie on the Half Shell: Fight the winter blues with warm food

Photo+Credit%3A+Olivia+Beals

Photo Credit: Olivia Beals

I try not to complain about the weather, because I feel like it is a waste of energy and time for us all. In these frigid last couple months of winter, though, I’ve begun to understand the winter blues.

A great way to beat the blues is to cook and eat warm food. Cooking by the stove and oven keeps you nice and toasty, and so will moving around the kitchen. Being sedentary with a big box of Cheez-Its sounds great until the last episode of your favorite show is over on Netflix and you are still cold…and hungry.

This recipe will keep you warm and full for a while. It is inspired by a dish at Girasole in Shadyside. It consists of cannellini beans cooked in a well seasoned tomato sauce over pasta with garlic kale on top. It is quite hearty, but full of protein and carbs to give you a lot of energy and to keep you strong during these treacherous sub zero days.

I take a lot of short cuts in this recipe, such as canned beans instead of dried beans and store bought tomato sauce instead of homemade. To my defense, though, my tomatoes did not turn out well this year and I am still trying to figure out how to soak and cook dried beans properly.

If anyone has good advice, please let me know. I am really trying to switch over and avoid the toxic BPA in the cans! But alas, cans are so very handy. Especially for people with jobs, children, or school-work–which means the majority of us.

Enjoy this recipe with a good glass of red wine, a mood candle, and someone you love. This recipe is for big portions because you will want a lot of this stuff!

What you will need for 2-4 people (depending)

1 large bunch of kale roughly chopped

2 cloves of minced garlic

8 ounces of al dente pasta

1 can of cannellini beans

½ of a medium onion chopped finely

2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce

1 Tbs of hot chili flakes (less if you don’t like a lot of spice)

1 Tbs of fresh basil

A lot of Parmesan to grate on top

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil for cooking

For the kale, start the process by heating some garlic with some olive oil on low heat. When the garlic becomes fragrant, add in the kale in stages on medium heat. For each handful of kale, stir around and sprinkle a little salt so it will wilt. When all of the kale is added, be sure to stir it around the olive oil until it is all well coated. Add more olive oil, if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the beans and tomato sauce, start by heating up olive oil and tossing in the onion and garlic. When that is fragrant and the onions are translucent, add in your tomato sauce, basil, and pepper flakes. Let the sauce come to a boil and then turn down the heat. Add the cannellini beans and salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture simmer for about 15-20 minutes so the flavors can marry.

To put the dish together, top the bean and tomato sauce mixture on some of the pasta, and then layer the kale on top of the beans. Finish with good parmesan grated on top of everything.