What is the hardest part about blogging? Lately it's been the writing, just simply sitting down and putting my thoughts on this blank space seems to be daunting. This morning, fighting the lack of sleep, running on the caffeine as usual, I felt very inspired to do just about anything and everything that came to mind, especially in terms of food and writing. By the time four o'clock hit, the caffeine had run out and all I could think of was how to stay awake a few more hours instead of crash napping in the middle of my day.
Which brings me to my next thought, ever have one of those days where all you want is a hearty, delicious helping of veggies? I needed today to be one of those days, coffee and doughnuts are not exactly the ideal meal plan. Not to sound all super healthy here, but I myself get a craving for veggies often enough. I have some days where the last thing I want is my favorite iced cake doughnut with pink sprinkles and just the thought of a burrito bowl makes me feel like a glutton. Instead give me a good bowl of veggies that leaves me feeling satisfied and a bit smug about making a healthy choice. We all have had that moment, don't judge!
Ok so after that little write up, I can only eat veggies for so long before I am looking for some form of carbs or protein. Hello cheese tortellini, you pretty much belong in this one. And no it's not one part veggies to two parts pasta either, be nice and treat the tortellini as a topping, trust me, the minestrone is totally worthy of being eaten on its own (pesto is a must though!). Oh and the list of ingredients below, they all go into the pot one after another, the hardest work you might do is simply chopping the veggies.
A Hearty Minestrone with Cheese Tortellini
- 3 slices bacon, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 leek, white and light green parts sliced thinly
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 1 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise and then thinly across
- 1 large potato, chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 4 cups water
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 28 oz can of whole canned tomato, drained and chopped
- 3 cups spinach leaves, sliced thinly
- 1 small parmesan rind (optional)
- 1 can cannellini beans, drained
- 1 - 20 oz package cheese tortellini
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 8 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- Parmesan cheese for garnishing
- Start by sautéing the bacon in a large dutch oven until crispy, add the garlic and allow to cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds before adding the onion, leek, carrots, zucchini, potato and celery.
- Allow to cook for a about 5 minutes until starting to soften then add the water, broth, chopped tomatoes, spinach and parmesan rind if using. Bring to a simmer allow to cook for at least 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- For the pesto: toast the pine nuts until fragrant and spotted in a small skillet over a medium fire. Set aside until needed.
- Blanch the basil leaves by first bringing a small saucepan of about 2-3 cups of water to a boil. Prepare a medium bowl filled with ice water as well. Add the leaves to the boiling water and cook for 20-30 seconds then immediately remove the leaves from the saucepan and dunk them into the ice bath for a few seconds to cool completely. Transfer onto a paper towel to soak up any excess water before continuing.
- In a food processor or using an immersion blender, combine the toasted nuts and balanced basil leaves along with the remaining ingredients until pureed. Set aside.
- Once the vegetables are tender, add the drained beans along with the cheese tortellini. Cook the tortellini for the amount of time instructed on the packaging. Serve Minestrone with a drizzle of pesto and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
*pesto recipe adapted from americastestkitchen.com