by Chef Cassie Piuma
Cassie Piuma, chef at Sarma and recent semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation Best Chef- Northeast title, proves that comforting doesn’t have to be unhealthy with this recipe for veggie-heavy and protein-rich ribollita. Wait out the last days of winter over a bowl – it’s similar to minestrone but with more texture (thanks to hearty greens like escarole, and toasted bread that are included in the tomato-y broth).
- 4 ounces pancetta, small diced
- 1/3 bunch celery, small diced
- 4 carrots, small diced
- 2 onions, small diced
- 2 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 3 vine ripe tomatoes, small diced
- 6 leaves sage, finely chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 bunch kale, chopped
- 1 head escarole, chopped
- 1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 can tomatoes fillets, puréed first! (this can be found in the Italian aisle at your local grocery store)
- 2 cups dried white beans
- Drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil plus more for shallow frying
- 1/2 French baguette, small diced
- Fresh cheese-mozzarella, stracciatella or buratta
- Fresh basil leaves
- Aleppo chiles
- Additional olive oil
- Cook beans in separate water until they are ¾ of the way cooked and almost tender. Reserve. They will finish in stew later.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan and shallow fry the diced baguette in olive oil at a low temperature until golden brown and crispy. Reserve for later use.
- In a large pot, render pancetta over medium heat until half way cooked. Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil and add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Sweat the mixture and add puréed tomato, fresh tomatoes, sage, bay leaves and cook very low for at least 30 minutes.
- Add beans, and a little water if necessary. Continue to simmer until beans are really tender but still intact.
- Add chopped kale and escarole and simmer until tender.
- Finish stew with a little chopped rosemary and some balsamic vinegar.
- To serve, place a little of the fried bread in a bowl and ladle stew on top. Garnish with mozzarella, chiles, basil and a final drizzle of olive oil.