When you work in a professional kitchen, the tendency to run amok with culinary gadgets is very strong. And whenever I enter a kitchen supply store, I am inclined to buy anything and everything for my home kitchen – sure, I will have the chinois because the 60 feet of cheesecloth still sitting in my pantry is not good enough! Why not an egg poacher? Then I remember I can poach eggs perfectly well in my crappy little saucepan – they might not be perfectly round but they are perfectly poached. Only the fact I abhor clutter stops me from adding useless crap to my counters. Then, if all else fails, I think of my mother, who cooks magnificent meals out of a postage stamp sized kitchen, with culinary utensils five decades old.
Cooking at home seldom requires the skills or instruments of a professional kitchen, although having huge cutting boards is something I am so used to I can’t do without, but, with my mom now cooking in my kitchen day and day out, I am reminded that good food does not equal a $200 knife. She already thinks I am off my rocker for having color coordinated cutting boards used only for certain items or that my fridge is organized according to health laws, that when I saw her chopping parsley with the scrappiest knife in my drawer, one that I had thought long lost and that she probably picked because it was the least intimidating, I didn’t have the heart to say anything. The pasta and fagioli she made with that parsley couldn’t have been improved by my Shun knife anyway.
RECIPE – Yields 4 portions
11 oz Dried Cranberry beans, soaked overnight and rinsed
3 T Parsley, chopped
1 Garlic Clove
5 T Tomato Sauce, possibly home-made
1 sprig Rosemary
4 T Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 C Short pasta or handmade egg pasta roughly cut
- Cook the beans in plenty of water (enough to cover the beans) with the carrot, rosemary and salt. Bring the water to boil then let simmer until the beans are tender (about 1 hour)
- In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a small pan. Add garlic and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes (make sure not to cook the parsley). Add the tomato sauce, salt and pepper and let cook until the sauce thickens.
- Once the beans are cooked drain them but reserve the water.
- Mix the tomato sauce to the beans and, adding some of the reserved water, puree in a blender in several batches, adding water to taste, depending on the desired thickness. You probably won’t use all the water but you want it thin enough to be able to cook the pasta in it.
- Place the soup on the stove in a big pot, bring to a gentle boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente and serve with olive oil.