Delicious + Nutritious Tuscan Bean Soup

It’s January and its Minnesota. A healthy, delicious soup is just the comfort food your fitness goals and the weather call for! This Tuscan White Bean, Sausage and Veggie Soup will feed a family or provide a few meals for one or two! Skip to the end to read my “quick and easy” note, which was the path I chose for our Mediterranean Lifestyle cooking class tonight! This soup pairs beautifully with a Chardonnay (sparkling or still) or Pinot Noir.

Ingredients

2 T vomFASS San Domenico Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 pound Italian sweet or spicy sausage, casing removed

1 medium onion, chopped

2 large carrots, diced small

2 large potatoes, diced small

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Viola’s bay leaf

2 (15 ounce) cans white cannelini beans

2 small bunches of kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped

8 C. low-sodium chicken stock (read the label to find one that doesn’t have sugar and a bunch of other stuff you don’t want in your soup!)

Violas Feta Seasoning, to taste (at least a couple teaspoons!)

vomFASS Herb Vinegar, to taste

Directions

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage and brown, stirring occasionally to break into smaller pieces, approximately 10 minutes.

Add onion, carrots, potato, and bay leaves salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally, approximately 10 minutes. Add garlic and beans; cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add kale and cook until slightly wilted. Add chicken stock, season and cover with lid.

Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and keep at a simmer for about 45 minutes, although a bit longer is completely fine. The soup will thicken as the potatoes begin to release their starch into the soup. Serve with a splash of Herb Vinegar.

Vegetarian option: eliminate sausage; replace San Domenico EVOO with vomFASS Smoky BBQ EVOO.

Fast and easy: Use pre-cooked Italian sausage (I used Chicken Italian sausage from Fresh Thyme Market), and pre-minced garlic. Add all ingredients, including olive oil, to crock pot or pressure cooker and cook as appropriate to appliance type. I used an Instant Pot on High Pressure setting for 6 minutes. Don’t forget that pop of Herb Vinegar right before eating!

Even Skinnier: Replace potatoes and carrots with a variety of other veggies, such as chopped or spiralized zucchini, cauliflower, shredded cabbage, celery, fresh fennel, or tomatoes.  Reduce cooking time to adjust for higher water content veggies.

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Easy Risotto and Fish Dinner

Risotto is one of my favorite dishes, and it’s so easy to make it new each time using different veggies, olive oil flavors or seasonings. And it’s a great way to use left-over grilled veggies this summer! And of course Minnesotans love easy new ways to prepare their fresh catch of Walleye, Northern Pike, Bass or Pan Fish. No problem if you don’t have access to fresh Minnesota fish. This preparation works equally well on Halibut, Cod or Salmon!

I recommend pairing this meal with a juicy, slightly off-dry white or rosé wine, such as Brand Weissburgunder, Sentio Pinot Grigio, Fausse Piste Oyster Sauce, or even a Prosecco or Cava from vomFASS at Mall of America. Enjoy!

easy recipes fish risotto olive oil vomFASS Mall of America

Easy pan-fried or grilled fish 

Ingredients

vomFASS Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
vomFASS BBQ Fish Seasoning
Fish fillets of choice (I used halibut this time) 1 per person
vomFASS Calamansi Balsam Vinegar, to taste

Directions

Heat a sauté pan with Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil over medium heat. Add fish fillet(s), fish recipe vomFASS Mall of America Minnesota Food not over-crowding the pan. Grind BBQ Fish Seasoning over the fish. Sauté until golden. Flip once and finish sautéing until golden on the second side. Turn off heat under pan and allow to continue cooking with ambient heat just until fish is flaky and no longer translucent in the middle. Don’t overcook, as it results in a dry, tough fillet. To grill, use aluminum foil as your “pan” over medium heat. Serve with a drizzle of Calamansi Balsam Vinegar.

Risotto with Asparagus Serves 4-6

Ingredients

6 – 8  asparagus spears, washed, tough ends snapped off and cut into 2-inch pieces
½ medium onion, diced
1 t. minced garlic
2 T. vomFASS Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus more for drizzling)
vomFASS Sea Salt, to taste
vomFASS Peppercorn Mix, ground, or to taste
1 T. butter
2 T. vomFASS Porcini Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 C. Arborio rice
½ C. dry white wine (such as vomFASS Sentio Pinot Grigio)
4 C. chicken or vegetable stock
½ C. Parmesan Cheese, grated (we like Cheese Brothers Parmesan, from our friends at their Mall of America store)

Directions

Heat a large sauté pan (I like using cast iron for risotto for consistent heat) with Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil over medium heat. Sauté onion until slightly softened, about two minutes. Add asparagus and sauté a couple more minutes, just until tender-crisp. Finally, add garlic and sauté just a minute more, reducing heat as needed to keep garlic from burning. Use a slotted spoon to remove veggies from pan and set aside.

Heat butter and Porcini Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the same pan over medium heat. Add rice and stir to coat the grains, sautéing for a few minutes until rice becomes slightly golden. Add wine and cook until liquid is absorbed. Add about ½ cup of stock and ½ teaspoon salt to the rice. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed. Continue to add the stock, about ½ cup at a time, stirring frequently. Each time, cook until the mixture is a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. During the last few minutes of cooking, add the sautéed veggies and salt and/or pepper to taste, if needed. Off the heat, add the Parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve with a drizzle of Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
 

Gourmet Pizza: Easy with vomFASS!

As a busy Mom, Nana, Sister, Friend and Business Owner, my forte is making gourmet crowd-pleasing recipes that are quick and easy. These pizzas fit that bill, with a little help from carefully selected convenience foods and/or leftovers. Feel free to improvise to use ingredients you have on hand or prefer, especially with the veggies and meats. Don’t overload the toppings, as that will result in a soggy pizza.

These recipes have received rave reviews from two different cooking classes at vomFASS, as well as from my siblings at a long overdue gathering this past weekend. Enjoy!

Artichoke Pesto Chicken Pizza

Artichoke Pesto Chicken Flatbread Serves 4
1 10 inch pizza or flatbread crust*Pizza Recipe Chicken Artichoke Pesto vomFASS Mall of America
¼ C. Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 C. chicken breast, diced (leftovers, from the deli or rotisserie chicken)
½ jar vomFASS Artichoke Pesto
½ C. Shredded White Cheddar or Gouda cheese
½ C. sliced mushrooms
¼ C. Balsamic Glazed Onions
½ C. baby spinach leaves, roasted asparagus or other veggies
2 T. vomFASS Sherry Reserva Vinegar
2 T. vomFASS Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
vomFASS Pyramid Sea Salt and Peppercorn Mix, to taste

Finishing options: Red Pepper,Truffle, or Porcini Extra Virgin Olive Oil; Aceto Balsamico Maletti

Preheat oven to 425°. Toss mushrooms with Sherry Vinegar & Garlic EVOO. Let marinate for at least 15 minutes or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Remove mushrooms from vinaigrette and dry on paper towels. Combine Parmesan and Pesto. Spread in a thin layer onto crust. Top with chicken, remaining cheese, mushrooms, veggie and seasonings. Bake 10 – 12 minutes directly on the oven rack for a crispier crust. Remove from oven. Individuals may finish as desired with a drizzle of oils, vinegars or spices.

*I use frozen gluten free crusts. Some of my favorites are from Gooters Dough to Go and Against the Grain, from Hyvee. 

 

Arugula Pesto Margherita Pizza

1 10-inch pizza or flatbread crust Margherita Pizza Recipe vomFASS Mall of America
¼ C. Parmesan cheese, finely grated
½ jar vomFASS Arugula and Pine Nut Pesto
¼ C. fresh mozzarella, sliced/diced, or pearls
8 fresh basil leaves, shredded (chiffonade)
2 roma tomatoes
vomFASS Pyramid Sea Salt
and Peppercorn Mix,
to taste

Finishing options: vomFASS Red Pepper, Basil, or Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil; Aceto Balsamico di Famiglia or Maletti

Preheat oven to 425°. Slice tomatoes and place onto paper towels to draw out some of the liquid. Combine Parmesan and Pesto. Spread in a thin layer onto crust. Top with tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, salt and pepper. Bake 10 – 12 minutes. Individuals may finish as desired with a drizzle of oils, vinegars or spices.

Whisky BBQ Steak Bleu Cheese Pizza vomFASS Mall of America

Whisky BBQ, Steak & Bleu Cheese Pizza

1 10-inch pizza or flatbread crust
1 jar vomFASS Whisky BBQ Sauce
¼ C. finely grated parmesan
¼ C. Bleu cheese crumbles
½ C. grilled or broiled steak strips (leftovers or from deli)
¼ C. Balsamic Glazed Onions
½ C. broccoli, cut into small pieces and steamed for 2 minutes
vomFASS Himalayan Sea Salt and Peppercorn Mix, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine BBQ sauce and Parmesan cheese. Spread in a thin layer onto crust. Top with beef, Bleu cheese, broccoli, balsamic onions and seasonings. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes.

 

Chili Mango Shrimp & Sautéed Green Beans

The food has to been delicious and satisfying, especially when I’m giving my img_1503body a break from carbs and sugars! I see it as an opportunity to step up my menu planning to meet the challenge. So far, so very good!

Chili Mango Shrimp  Serves 4

Ingredients
24 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 T. vomFASS Chili Sunflower Oil (may substitute Lemon EVOO for all or part of Chili Oil for less spicy)
2 T. vomFASS Mango Balsamic Star
1 clove minced garlic
½ t. vomFASS Texas BBQ spice blend
½ t. vomFASS Himalayan Sea Salt
Freshly ground vomFASS Garlic Pepper Whole Blend, to taste
Cilantro, chopped, as garnish

Directions
Combine oil, vinegar, garlic, half the salt and a few cranks of pepper in a glass bowl with cover or zip top bag. Add shrimp and marinate 15 – 20 minutes. Do not marinate longer, as shrimp will break down in the acidity.  Empty contents of bag or bowl into hot stir-fry pan. Toss just until cooked through. Finish with additional sea salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately or chill to serve as an appetizer. In the unlikely event of leftovers, try tossing with salad greens and drizzle with a dressing of oil and vinegar.

Garlic Sautéed Green Beans Serves 4

Ingredients
1 lb. Fresh green beans
2 T. vomFASS Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
vomFASS Danish Smoked Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly ground vomFASS Garlic Pepper Whole Blend, to taste

Directions
Steam green beans to tender crisp, about 3 – 4 minutes. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium burner. When the oil is shimmery, add green beans. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss until beans are lightly browned/blackened.

It’s Chili Season!

When the temperature drops below freezing, I turn to one of my favorite types of meals – soup. This classic Chili con Carne recipe is so simple and quick – not to mention delicious! Easy to convert to vegetarian/vegan – just eliminate or replace the meat with a vegan substitute and leave off the cheese garnish or use a vegan cheese. And if you’re cooking for only two, the leftovers are even better the next day! Enjoy!

Classic Chili – Serves 4

1/2 pound ground beef or turkeychili.jpg
1 medium onion, diced
1 can red kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes
3 C. tomato juice (I used 3 cups of a jarred spaghetti sauce that I deemed too thin to use as a pasta sauce)
1 T vomFASS Chili con Carne spice blend (or more, to taste)
vomFASS Sea Salt and Peppercorn Mix, ground, to taste
Shredded cheese, sour cream or other toppings for garnish and flavor.

Brown the meat over medium heat, breaking up into crumbles with spoon as you stir. If using turkey or very lean beef, coat the pan with chili sunflower oil and preheat pan before adding meat.  If there is a lot of excess fat in the pan after browning meat, drain it off. Add the remaining ingredients (I did not drain and rinse the beans). Heat over medium-high heat until bubbling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes to bloom flavors. Dish up and enjoy!