Today we welcome Amy Williamson (aka "Tingle") and her special dish that rocked our Squam world! Amy has a way of not only creating delicious meals, but she knows how to bring a party to the kitchen. Amy knows how to deliver!
3 cans of beans (2 cannelini and 1 chick pea) :: 1 jar of pesto (about a cup, and even better if you can make it yourself, SUPER YUM!) :: 1 tube of plain polenta 4-5 tomatoes :: 1 medium eggplant :: 1 medium zucchini :: 1 head of fennel :: 1 bag of baby spinach :: olive oil, rosemary, oregano, salt
So first things first, you need wine. A whole bottle of your favorite. My current favorite (when I'm not drinking bourbon) is Cantina Zaccagnini, a delicious dry red wine from Abruzzo, one of my favorite parts of Italy.
While we're on the subject of the most beautiful country I've ever seen, go directly to the SquamItalia link and sign up. You will not regret it!
Okay,so open up that bottle and pour yourself a deep glass of wine. Have a few sips and get out your crock pot. I recently broke the one I've had for years and now I have this really cute new one from Target. So you've got your pot and your wine.
Before you start prepping you need music. My playlist (see below) will get you in the mood to sing and dance around your kitchen. It might take you a little longer to get dinner ready, but that's okay. Singing and dancing are two of the best parts of life. We need more of both of them. So turn up the volume!
Step 1: Roast the veggies. You can do this the day before if you want. I play around with a variety of veggies. My favorite combo is tomato, eggplant, fennel and zucchini, but mix it up. Use your favorites and see how they blend. I would say the tomato is a MUST. The deep rich flavor of the roasted tomato really makes the dish pop.
So I slice the veggies, 1/2inch for the eggplant, cut tomatoes in half, zucchini in three or four slices lengthwise, fennel can be roasted whole.
Place them on some parchment paper, sprinkle them with a little salt and some olive oil and bake those babies in the oven at about 200 degrees until they are a golden brown and fragrant.
You can throw some sprigs of rosemary or oregano in the oven with them the last 1/2 hour or so to give them even more flavor.
Step 2: Drain and rinse the beans. Put them In a bowl, mix them together with the pesto. Coat them well.
Step 3: Drink a few more sips of wine. If the song playing is a good one, stop and twirl around the kitchen. Belt out the lyrics. If you have kids they will tell you you're embarrassing. You should not care. In fact you should dance louder and then do-si-do with one just prove he's wrong.
Step 4: Open up that tube of polenta. (Little known fact, it squirts! Do this over the sink with the knife toward the bottom or you will hit yourself square in the chest with that liquid. Take it from an expert.) Slice the polenta into 1/2 inch slices. You should get about 10 slices from the tube.
Step 5: Now spoon half the beans into the crock pot and layer half the veggies over them. Put half the polenta slices on top of those bad boys.
Step 6: You've been working hard. Take another break to drink the rest of the glass of wine and listen to Dog Days Are Over by Florence and the Machine. Because I swear they are. For reals. Plus it's a really really fun song to dance to. I go crazy. Picture this, dancing on the countertops. It's true. There are witnesses.
Step 7: Repeat step 5. Then turn the pot on "low" and let that baby go. Cook it for about 4-5 hours, those flavors will melt together.
Step 8: Take that lovely spinach and add it to the pot for the last 1/2 hour of cooking. Wilted is best.
Step 9: Pour yourself another glass of wine and serve that awesomeness.Preferably with some really good bread and a hunk of Italian provolone. The original recipe called for layers of cheese in the pot. After many many attempts and taste testings, I have removed this ingredient from my version. I think it's better without the cheese layer, but ain't no lie, you need it on the side. You know, for the wine.
Step 10: Put on Kyle Andrews You Always Make Me Smile. And remember that you do. Always.Make.Me.Smile.
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