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Not Another Stir-Fry

Island Epicure

My son Steven, home from years of teaching in Chinese Universities,when asked what  he would like for dinner, replied, “Not another stir-fry. That’s all we get in Zhengzhou.”

He wanted something exotic, something he’d be eating in one of the countries we visited on our sabbatical school year when he was in the fifth grade.  We’d spent that winter mostly on Crete, so I suggested Kotopoulo me Domathes (Chicken with Tomatoes), a dish not found in either of my Greek cookbooks, but I’ve been cooking it often since we ate it in a tiny three-table restaurant at Spili on the spine of hills that run the length of Crete.

“No, we had that the  last time I was home.”

We mentally paged through favorite dishes we’d enjoyed in  Italy, Spain, England and Denmark. We finally settled on an Italian dish, easy to make and perfect as the one warm dish in a  hot-day supper: Pasta e Fagioli, Pasta with Beans. Below is the recipe. It can be infinitely varied by using different kinds of beans and/or different kinds of pasta. It can be gluten free for those sensitive to wheat. You  could use spinach or kale for the greens. (If choosing kale, parboil it until tender. That takes about 20 minutes.) Here is an example that takes less cooking that with kale:

Gluten Free
Pasta e Fagioli
3 to 4 servings

2 Tablespoons coconut oil or light olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 Tablespoon minced garlic (1 large or 2 skinnier cloves)
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 cups spinach leaves with stems removed
1 15 oz. can red kidney beans, drained
2 teaspoons Italian herb mix
4 oz. buckwheat noodles or brown rice fettucini
1 Tablespoon extra virgin cold pressed olive oil

In a wide, deep skillet, heat the oil. Try a piece of onion. If it sizzles, put in the rest of the chopped onion. Stir fry it until it is shiny and beginning to change color. Add tomatoes and spinach. Add  drained beans. Reduce the heat and let this sauce simmer while you cook the pasta until a strand can be cut by the side of a fork pressed against the kettle. Be sure to add tablespoon of olive oil to the cooking water and stir now and then so the strands will not stick together. When done, pour into a colander set in the sink. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and toss  Transfer to a serving bowl. Add the beans and toss again.  Enjoy with a fresh vegetable salad on the side.