I like free stuff. Most people do because if you can get it for free, it’s like a little prize. I follow a lot of the coupon blogs and on very special days, these coupon blogs offer free magazine subscriptions. I love those days because the magazines are usually great magazines. Last year, I signed up for La Cucina Italiana, knowing that I love Italian food. It might be my most favorite type of food on the planet. I’m not just talking pasta and sauce (or gravy as some people are known to call it), but the flavors: the garlic, the tomato, the eggplant, the cheese, the meats, the olive oil. So very delicious!
This magazine features these flavors in so many wonderful ways and presents some amazing plates. A recent issue featured about a dozen recipes on polenta alone. It’s no wonder I love looking over the pages of what a certain celebrity chef/travel show personality calls “food porn.” Also, being someone who is always on the lookout for healthy ways to change my relationship with food, this magazine presents a whole new world of whole food cooking and fresh ingredients which is another great plus for me.
This month, the feature article was on fresh pasta but before the feature article, they always have a few recipes that they call “Cooking by the Clock.” Basically, quick and easy meals to make on those nights when you don’t have time to cook a five-course meal. I don’t know about you, but for me, five-course meals are presented on a nightly basis. Ok, so that’s in my next life when I have a personal chef and the metabolism of a hummingbird.
I’m sure like a lot of you, dinner is decided late in the afternoon based on what is in the house and how long it will take to cook. That is why this new recipe was tried today, when there was time to kill. We know now how long it takes, even though the magazine told us it would only take 30 minutes.
The recipe was called passato di ceci con gamberi in its original Italian. For those who are not fluent (sign up for a class today and learn something – can’t hurt to learn a new language), that translates to creamy chickpea soup with shrimp and tomatoes.
The ingredients were all items that I liked:
12 large shrimp
2 (15 oz) cans of chickpeas
1/4 cup plus 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil plus a little more for drizzling
3 leafy thyme sprigs
1 garlic clove, gently smashed and peeled
fine sea salt
1/2 TBSP unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
freshly ground black pepper
My Mother was home tonight and she was really the one who wanted to give the recipe a go so she took the job as master chef. As she prepared the recipe, the smells from the kitchen made my mouth water. Reading the steps below, you can understand why it would smell so wonderful.
First, Reserving shells, peel and devein shrimp. Reserving liquid from cans, drain chickpeas. Set aside 1 1/2 cup chickpea liquid discard remaining liquid.
In a medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup oil, thyme, and garlic. Heat over medium heat until fragrant about 3 minutes, then remove and discard garlic and thyme., Add Chickpeas and 1/2 tsp salt, cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chickpea liquid and bring just to a boil then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook until chickpeas are very tender, about 10 minutes
Those smells just waltzed from the kitchen to the living room and filled our small house with an amazing tease of what we were in store for. She continued to cook.
In a small skillet, melt butter over medium high heat. When foam subsides, add shrimp shells and cook stirring occasionally until shells just begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Add wine and pinch of salt, simmer until reduced by about half, about 5 minutes. Reserving shrimp stock, strain and discard shells.
In a blender, combine chickpeas and their liquid and shrimp stock; puree until smooth, in batches, if necessary. Return soup to saucepan and gently reheat. Adjust seasoning to taste.
After the blender started whirring, I knew that it was almost time to taste what had been smelling so wonderful. The anticipation was building. She cooked on.
In a large skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add shrimp and cook, turning once halfway through, until opaque and just cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Add tomatoes, 1/2 tsp salt and generous pinch of pepper cook, stirring occasionally, 30 seconds more. Remove from heat.
Divide soup among 4 serving bowls. Top with shrimp and tomatoes. Drizzle with oil.
Now, in the magazine there was a picture of this dish. It was colorful. The soup was a golden yellow, the tomatoes a perfect red and shrimp a lovely pink. The dish my Mother presented was close in color. The only difference was the soup, it was a little darker – maybe because of the beans we used?
It was also a little thicker than we thought it would be. For some reason, the word creamy means smooth and liquid to me. This was closer to a humus/grits type consistency. It wasn’t bad, just not what I expected.
The taste though, was smooth. The creaminess of the soup was nice and not heavy. The shrimp and the tomatoes brought out the creaminess that much more. It was filling and perfect for this cool, drizzly August night. A definite keeper and I’m sure it will come back out in the winter when we need something to warm us all up from the cold.
I wish I had thought to take a photo of it before eating it, but then I still have mixed feelings of taking too many photos of food. Maybe next time I try a new recipe, I’ll remember to take a photo of it so I can post it.
I plugged the recipe into MyFitnessPal.com and came up withe following nutritional info per serving:
Not too shabby.
Plugged into my WW calculator and the value was 10 points. I’m guessing because it was a little high in the carbs. 10 points though for a filling meal is not a bad thing when you have as many points as I do in a day. This dish was worth every point! On the plus side, all the main ingredients count as a Power Food so that’s a good thing too.
Try this recipe. Your taste buds will thank you. And if you really like Italian food, not what some chain restaurants tell you is Italian food, get a subscription to La Cucina Italiana.