Friday, 16 January 2015

Oh, Grate!

Minestra Veloce di Lenticchie Rosse, Finocchi & Grattini
Quick Red Lentil, Fennel & Grattini Pasta Soup


Sometimes it's cold, sometimes you're tired... and sometimes you're hungry, all that the same time!
And what do you do at times like that? Hmmm- that is a good question!

Well, I don't know what you all do, but I make myself something simple and quick and comforting- the stress can wait for another day when I feel more up to it. And this is easy, quick and sooo comforting as well as being all-fresh and good for you too!


You may not be familiar with the term "Grattini"- or with these little "grated" chips of pasta- and neither was I until I stumbled across it on my recent trip to Sicily!

Although they would usually be served to babies, like many other kinds of tiny "pastini", they are always great in soups and especially so because they are cooked in just 3-4 minutes!


As you can see, this is another one of my "meals from next-to-nothing" kind of affairs... great isn't it?

To make myself a nice bowl of soup, all I needed was 1 good handful each of red lentils and grattini, a small piece of fennel and some fennel greens, 1 small carrot, 1 shallot, 4-5 cherry tomatoes and a little parsley.


As you can imagine, the grattini have a similar size and texture to a coarse-grained couscous or bulgur- which you could also use as a substitute if you can not find them. Sure enough- they are nothing special in themselves... but with the flavor of the nutty red lentils, the sweet and fragrant fennel and the tomato, they make for a great little soup... and that's all that matters!

Yes- you are going to have to do a little chopping- and very fine chopping at that- but there is not much that needs chopping after all- so the least you can do is make THAT bit of effort!


Chop the carrot, fennel and shallot very finely, as well as the parsley stalks and simply cut the cherry tomato into 8ths. Whilst you are doing that, pop your kettle on the stove top and boil yourself up some water... things will all get done so much faster if you use your smarts and multitask a little.

Pop the finely chopped veggies into a pot with a little olive oil and sweat them down until they begin to soften up- just 5 minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper and stir them occasionally to get them evenly cooked.


Now you have a good flavor base, add your boiling water and let them continue to cook and simmer for the next 5 minutes. The vegetables are so small that they don't need much cooking.


Next, add the diced tomatoes, the lentils and the finely chopped parsley and fennel greens. Allow them to boil for 4-5 minutes and then add the grattini (or couscous or bulgur).

All you need now is a final 5 minutes of patience and cooking time- and that's it!


Serve with a final grind of pepper and a drizzle of olive oil- Easy! There is so much flavor right there from the fennel, lentils, carrot and tomato and it is all good stuff!


Sometimes less is more- and this is one of those times! Nothing fancy, no hard work, just simple, honest good food! So enjoy!

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