Ribollita with pesto recipe image

Print Ribollita with pesto

This is a meal in a bowl. A real pottage, and a sturdy way to eat your greens. It translates from the Italian as “twice boiled”. A reference to the fact that it is a stew born out of the thrifty practise of taking the leftovers from other meals and creating a new one. The traditional use of stale bread as a bulker has been lessened here in favour of beans. The bread is used more like croutons to give another texture to the finished dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large or 2 smaller carrots
  • 1 celery stalk
  • Oil for frying e.g. sunflower or light olive
  • 1 potato
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 15g thyme
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch dried chilli
  • 1 tin cannellini beans
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 100g spring greens
  • 1 wholemeal roll
  • 25g Italian-style hard cheese
  • 2 tbsp green pesto
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Peel the onion and cut into a fine dice. Wash and peel the carrot(s) and cut into an equally fine dice. Finely dice the celery too. Put all 3 into the pan with some oil and start to soften on a medium heat, stirring occasionally. About 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, wash and peel the potato, and cut into a half cm dice. Peel and finely chop 2 garlic cloves. Strip the leaves from a large stalk of thyme (save the rest for use in other cooking). Add the potato, garlic, fennel seeds, thyme, bay leaf and a pinch of chilli to the pan.
  3. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously until everything smells fragrant. Add the tinned tomatoes and the cannellini beans, including their liquid (it acts like a stock). Add more water to make sure everything is covered. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring up to a simmer and cook gently for 30 minutes or until everything is tender. While it cooks, wash and drain your spring greens. Cut out any large stalks. Discard the stalks and roughly shred the leaves (see tip). Preheat your oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 8. When the ribollita is cooked, taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper as required. Remove from the heat and stir in the shredded spring greens.
  5. Tear 1 bread roll into rough chunks and press onto the top of the stew. You want it to soak up liquid, but to stay at the top of the pan. Sprinkle the parmesan over and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the topping has coloured and crisped a little.
  6. Alternatively you can slide the pan under a medium-hot grill until the bread has coloured and the cheese melted. Ladle into deep bowls and serve with a blob of green pesto on top.

Cooks notes

The best way to shred your spring greens is to take the stripped leaves, stack 4 or 5 in a pile and roll them up like a cigar. Now cut into strips lengthways. You get more cutting for your efforts. If you're cooking for vegetarians make sure your pesto fits the bill.
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