Minestra has all the hallmarks of the best rustic Italian food. It’s one pot cooking requiring no fancy cheffing skills and so filling you won’t feel hungry for hours (maybe even days!) afterwards.
I like to think it was probably dreamt up by an overzealous Mama creating a family meal from all the fresh vegetables, pasta and beans she had in her kitchen one cold winter’s day. The earthy flavours and creamy texture make it perfect comfort food and it was one of my favourite recipes as a child.
Like many one-pot dishes, the flavours develop and intensify from one day to the next. Don’t let the long list of ingredients put you off. It is not too labour intensive; you don’t need to chop the vegetables too finely because the majority are blitzed into a smooth soup with the liquidiser. Also the measurements are given as a guideline and you should feel free to change quantities to suit your palate.
Don’t forget the beans need to be soaked overnight.
Prep to Plate: Prep: (overnight soaking of beans) + 25 mins on cooking day Cooking time: 30 mins
- 125g pinto beans
- 500g tomatoes
- 250g pumpkin (or other squash)
- 200g spinach or Swiss chard/greens
- 1 med courgette and/or aubergine
- 2 med potatoes
- 250g peas
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 200g green beans
- 200g pasta (linguine or similar)
- 2 tbsp Pesto (or quantity to taste). For fresh Pesto recipe click here.
- grated parmesan
Equipment notes: You will need a liquidiser and a large stockpot to fit all the ingredients!
- Soak the beans in a bowl of cold water the night before you plan to cook minestra. (Beans need to soak a minimum of 12 hours)
- Drain beans and put into a pan of fresh water and cook until tender. (Do not add salt as this slows down the cooking process) Drain and set to one side.
- Peel and chop the pumpkin, spinach, potatoes, courgettes and tomatoes in large chunks, add peas and olive oil. Season lightly and cook until ‘al dente’ in enough water to allow vegetables to cook without burning.(same quantity you would use if making soup.) Liquidise until smooth and creamy.
- Add drained pinto beans, green beans and pasta and stir in Pesto sauce.
- Once pasta is cooked it’s ready to eat, although it will be tastier if you allow it to cool a little before serving.
- To serve add grated parmesan and, if you love pesto as much as I do you may want to stir in a little more.
- Enjoy knowing that you’ve more than covered your family’s “5 a day” requirements with this hearty dish!
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