RIBOLLITA

This vegetable soup with kale, Ribollita,  is one of a number of thick soups from Italy served with a slice of bread in the bottom of the bowl. It has  no additional pasta or rice. The name Ribollita means reboiled.  Traditionally the soup was made by heating  leftover vegetable soup in an earthenware pot in the oven. This recipe was inspired by the comprehensive Italian cookbook, The Silver Spoon, Phaidon Press, 2005. As with most plant-based recipes, the method of cooking the vegetables is crucial to obtaining the deepest, richest flavor for the dish. In this recipe, some of the vegetables are sautéed in wine before they go into the stock. These caramelized vegetables  provide a contrast with the sharper kale and tomatoes in the stock.

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ROMESCO – PEPPER AND TOMATO SAUCE

This flavorful combination of red peppers and Roma tomatoes with olives, almond butter, garlic and smoked paprika makes a sauce that  can be used in several ways. It can be put over pasta or vegetables. It can be added to a soup or stew when it is served. It can also be used as a pizza topping with some olives. It is also good for dipping cut-up vegetables.  We use olives and almond butter instead of the traditional  olive oil.

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FIG AND OLIVE TAPENADE

This wonderful tapenade of sweet figs,  savory olives and vinegary capers is an outstanding blend of sweet and sour/tart and it is hard to stop eating it. It is always a hit. Tapenade goes back to Roman times and can be made many different ways. This recipe featuring figs mixed with the olives and capers is one of my favorites.  There are many recipes for this Provencal dish, with or without the green olives and capers. Jacques Pepin adds the  green olives and capers to his, so I did too. In fact, the name tapenade comes from the Provencal word for capers. It is important to crush the rosemary and thyme if using home-dried and cook them with the figs because otherwise the herbs resemble miniature pieces of wood. Also, crushing releases fragrant oils.

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