My oldest daughter is a vegetarian, so visits home can be a challenge and a learning opportunity for the 'head cook'. On her last visit, I wanted to try something new. I had read that dried mushrooms ground into a fine powder was one way to add flavor depth to food. Some refer to this meatiness as Umami.
To test the idea, I made the following Vegetarian Minestrone, using both ground up dried mushrooms and the rind of a chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano in the soup. The latter is a common trick in Italian minestrone recipes. You want to use a hearty, full-flavored vegetable stock rather than a broth which can be thin and watery.
The resulting dish was a anonymous success.
|1||Medium||Carrot, peeled and cut into rounds|
|2||Small||Zucchini, ~8", halved and cut into chunks|
|1||Stalk||Celery, cut crosswise into chunks|
|1||Red Pepper, seeded and diced|
|¾||Cup||Diced Green Beans|
|1||14-fl Oz Can||Diced Tomatoes|
|3||Cups||Low Sodium Vegetable Stock|
|4||Pieces||Dried Porcini Mushrooms, ground fine, about 2 teaspoons|
|1||Piece||Rind from Parmesan Cheese, maybe 3" X 2"|
|1||19-fl Oz Can||Cannelini Beans, or kidney beans, drained and rinsed|
|½||Cup||Orzo, or other short pasta like macaroni|
|Salt and Pepper to taste|
- Sauté the chopped vegetables, except the green beans, in olive oil for a few minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté one minute more.
- Add all of the rest of the ingredients, except the orzo. Add more stock or water if needed. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes
- Add the pasta, turn heat up to a gentle boil and cook about 10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.
- Remove and discard the cheese rind.
- Adjust the seasoning as desired.
- Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese on the side to garnish.
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