We are just back in Wales, the home of the Beach House and arrived to a clear night and a million star welcome! Today has been fantastic, getting settled in again and unpacking the wine bought in France and Spain. We may need to build an extension to fit it all in!
After all the fussing about and sorting we decided to head to the hills, Knicht to be exact, a Himalayan looking mountain near Porthmadog. It is an impressive rocky peak and we knew we had a good day of scrambling and sharp climbs ahead. It turned out to be an awesome walk, with views of the Snowdon range and the Irish Sea. Knicht is surrounded by many small mountain lakes and we’ve made plans to return and camp up there soon. Jane and I are so lucky to live in such beautiful places. We are loving being back in Wales and of course a major part of that is the Beach House Kitchen.
We are getting re-acquainted with all of our cool kitchen stuff; spatulas, knives graters and Buster our semi-wild cat (who lives in the wood store). We’ve been cooking up a storm with oat breads, hummus, fruit salads and lashing of proper cups of tea. Amongst this frenzy came the idea for his stew.
We fancied a change of taste, we do eat alot of spiced food and have talked of visiting Italy for an age. We have also been eating far too much amazing cheese in France and quaffing the odd glass of vino, all in all, we feel a little jaded after two weeks or more on the road and this Ciambotta recipe heralds a step back to the food we really love; healthy, fresh, local and hearty.
This Ciambotta, I would imagine, is very un-Italian to most Italians. But it looks very Italian in Wales I can assure you! We’re a long way from Milan! The colours and citrus of the dish, not to mention the parmesan and hint of tarragon, make for an interesting take on the traditional Ciambotta; a dish normally cooked by Italian mommas to use up spare vegetables. There is nothing spare about these vegetable though, they are all in peak condition, as they should be. Jane has been searching high and low for good produce, it’s that time of year when all that seems good are the Jerusalem Artichokes (nothing wrong with that then!)
To make this recipe more Italian, substitute the parsnip and carrot for aubergine and courgette. But we’re back in the B.H.K and the local veg is brilliant. We’ve also missed our friend the parsnip, they are as rare as vegans is Spain!
We used Winter Greens here, they are like cabbage leaves. Kale, Savoy Cabbage and the like would also be grand. Even Spinach would be cool, anything dark green and leafy. The Greens work well because when rolled up and chopped thin, they actually resemble something like pasta (gluten-free wa-hay!)
Makes enough for four hungry folk.
3 cups cooked butter beans, 2 tbs good quality fruity olive oil, 1 large onion (finely sliced), 1 stick celery (finely sliced), 2 large carrots (small cubes), 2 parsnips (small cubes), 4 cloves garlic (finely sliced), 2 big handfuls of greens (whole leaves finely sliced), 1 big handful of cherry tomatoes, 1 lemon (juice and zest), 2 bay leaves, 1 heaped teaspoon of dried tarragon and oregano, 2 teaspoons dried basil, 2 cups butter bean stock (cooking juice), 2 tbs parmesan cheese.
Cook off your beans with a little salt for 1 hour (bring to a boil then simmer with a lid). They should be nice and tender. Set aside, this can be done well in advance, you can store them in the fridge for a couple of days.
On a medium heat, warm 1 tbs of oil in a heavy based frying pan and begin to sweat off your onions (5 mins), when soft add your bay leaves, carrots, celery, parsnip and garlic, stir well and cook for 3 mins, then add your dried herbs, tomatoes and greens, stir well and cook for 5 mins and then add your beans and bean juice. Turn the heat up and cook for 5 – 10 mins get it all nice and warm, the greens and veggies should be getting soft and the bean juice reducing a little.
At this stage, pop your lemon zest and juice, parmesan cheese and a glug of great olive oil into the mix, stir in and then pop a lid on and warm on lowest heat for 5 minutes. If you need a little more sauce, just pop some bean stock in and heath through.
We topped ours with some fresh parsley and basil leaves and nothing else! We resisted a little more parmesan on top, but that would be lovely. It’s quite a hearty stew, but of course being Italian-ish, a good lump of bread may be in order. In the Beach House we love stirring yogurt into stew to add some creaminess and the Italians would love some nice chunky croutons (preferably very garlicky!)
We Love It!
The lemon does it here and the pungent parmesan. We love this take on the Italian classic Ciambotta and are glad to be back in the land of the splendid parsnip. This stew is laden with glorious veggies, just the way we like ‘em.
Parmesan cheese contains the highest levels of naturally occurring MSG in the food world. MSG is not the baddie that many think, but was only isolated recently by a nice Japanese fellow and mass produced. Most of our really tasty food contains natural MSG and if you don’t mind cheating a little (well, alot really!) just add a little to a stew and watch the compliments come rolling in.
As always, we try and keep you abreast of Beach House tunes, now we’re back on the island (Britain) we are re-integrating with some cool youngsters Alt-J, nice beats and melodies off the ‘Awesome Wave’, here we are ‘Dissolve Me’. Wicked!: