The beauty of Italian cooking is in its simplicity. Much of Italian cooking is based on the idea that a few carefully chosen ingredients is all it takes to make a delicious dish.
This is what we had for dinner tonight, and while none of the recipes are specifically Italian, they do follow that philosophy.
Cannelini Bean Soup
Small onion, chopped
Sage - 2-3 leaves
2 cups cooked cannelini beans
Method: saute the onion in a little olive oil until translucent. Add the sage, beans, and a cup of water. Simmer until the beans are falling apart and the onions very well cooked. Puree with an immersion blender (or in a standard blender). Add additional water if the puree is too thick. Add salt to taste.
Mushroom Garnish for Soup
1 cup mushrooms (or half a small package) sliced
Basil - a handful chopped fine
Method: saute the mushrooms in a little olive oil. Add salt and basil. (I actually make this with an "ice cube" of basil frozen in olive oil.) Spoon over individual bowls of soup.
Wilted Spinach Salad
6-8 ounces baby spinach, washed and dried
1/4 cup olive oil
6-8 black olives, pitted and sliced
Half an apple, peeled and cut into small chunks
Half a cup of crumbled feta cheese
Red wine vinegar, a few splashes
Method: put spinach in a bowl with the vinegar. Heat the oil in a pan until almost smoking. Pour the oil over the spinach, while mixing. Add the rest of the ingredients and adjust the salt and vinegar.
Bread and Cheese
Any sort of bread you like will do, and cheese is optional. This evening we found the cheese in the salad to be enough. I had pizza dough in the fridge, so I made a simple flatbread with olive oil and salt.