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Ribollita, the "Flexitarian" Stew adapted from Mark Bittman in The New York Times

Ribollita, the "Flexitarian" Stew adapted from Mark Bittman in The New York Times
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Mark Bittman, “The Flexitarian”

Mark Bittman calls himself “The Flexitarian”.  He writes about his food philosophy in The New York Times Dining Out Section once a month.  I am happy to report that from the start Bittman promised that, first and foremost, his new column would be an ode to great-tasting food. What he offers too is food for those of us who are moderate in our eating habits—certainly not strict vegans or vegetarians–but omnivores making conscious choices about what we eat. His recipes are for all of us trying to incorporate more good-for-you plants and fewer animal proteins into our diets.  For all their hullabaloo, vegans and vegetarians make up a scant 5 percent of the population. But a lot of us are working hard to assimilate healthier grains, fish, legumes, fruits, and vegetables into our diets more often.  And that’s where Bittman’s recipes come in.  They offer truly flavorful food that I can only describe as even tasting healthy, a sensation I had as I dug into this Ribollita, a cheesy, vegetable-rich stew with its giant ‘crouton’ of whole-grain bread.


Tuscany, so beautiful it’s impossible
to forget.

This Ribollita recipe is based on a famous Tuscan soup. It acquires stew status when you add to its essential ingredients: Leftover bread, cannelloni beans, and carrots, onions, celery and tomatoes. This version is perfect for yet another dip by the Polar Vortex and ideal for a Meatless Monday.  It’s pure peasant food and dates back to the Middle Ages when the servants gathered up the remains of their feudal lord’s banquets and boiled them for their own dinners. Ribollitameans ‘reboiled’ in Italian.   I didn’t follow Mark Bittman’s recipe to the letter.  I actually followed his advice when he wrote: “even vegetable stews could have more vegetables” and upped their quantities.  I did, however, use what he described as “a boatload of kale” to which I added baby spinach.  I used a Dutch oven on the stovetop because the dish goes into the oven for the final 10 to 15 minutes. That’s when its parmesan topping gets its crunch.  The Dutch Oven works too because there’s quite a volume to this recipe.   The end result was luscious, brimming with flavor and texture. And there’s something so smug about eating like this:  You feel positively glowing with health.  And the next morning, I even weighed less than the day before, a nice side effect of heating so well! Here is the recipe:

4 thoughts on “Ribollita, the "Flexitarian" Stew adapted from Mark Bittman in The New York Times”

  • Monte! My whole family loves this recipe. Easy and so yummy. The Parmesan toasts on top somehow elevate a simple bean dish to something a little more sophisticated. Perfect timing. Thank you!

  • Thank you so much for taking time to comment, Connie! You made my day. I hope more people will try this. Among its many charms is that it's amazingly inexpensive. I think I got the whole thing on the table for $11.00 plus parmesan! That's $2.75 a serving for something really good! Take care and I hope winter's almost over in Kansas City. XOXO

  • Monte, thanks for these “Flexitarian” recipes. When it cools off out here I’ll be trying the Ribollita . But tonight spaghetti with mushrooms garlic and oil! 😋

    We’ve been trying to incorporate more plant based meals into our diets as well. I loved your comment about feeling smug after eating a meal like that!,🤣 I so get it! Thanks again and I look forward to trying all your plant based recipes. ❤️

    • Dear Joanne, how wonderful of you to write. Yes, being holier than thou is its own reward. I hope you like this dish. All best to you and Frank. XOXO Monte

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