Pasta Fajioli…an easy way to empty the fridge

Pasta Fajioli AM Northwest

Had great fun being back on AM Northwest last week (watch the clip, below), and got to talk about one of my all-time favorite subjects…comfort food. It’s getting chilly up here in the PNW, and nothing warms you back up like a good pot of soup.

One of my Facebook friends commented that whenever I’m on the show, I always do Italian recipes.

It’s true.

I love French food, and Asian food, and pretty much ANY food, but if I’m going to present the best version of something, something you can taste the love in, it’s probably going to be an old Italian Grandmother’s recipe.

The Home Chef's Guide to Frugal Fine CookingI love this recipe, not just because it’s delicious, and brings back great childhood memories, but because it’s one of those dishes that proves you don’t have to spend a lot, to make an amazing meal.  Pasta is cheap. Beans are cheap. Carrots, onions, celery? Cheap. Add whatever leftover meat and veggies from last night’s dinner, and presto…you have soup!

(For more tips, tricks, and recipes for great eating on a budget, check out my new book, “The Home Chef’s Guide to Frugal Fine Cooking” on Amazon.com!)

Soggiorno caldo!

~Chef Perry

Pasta Fajioli Recipe for AMNW
(pasta va-zool)

1 lb meat, cooked and chopped (roast chicken, sausage, hamburger, etc.)
36 oz “Quick and Easy Chicken Stock
28 ounces fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained (or 6 Romas, freshly roasted*)
15 oz tomato sauce
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
4 celery ribs, diced
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 cups beans (cannellini, kidney beans, etc,) rinsed and drained
2 tsp minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tsp coarse black pepper
8 ounces uncooked pasta (ditalini, macaroni, etc.)
4 teaspoons minced fresh parsley

Additional veggies: Whatcha’got? Pretty much any leftover veggies will compliment this soup. Peas, corn, sauteed mushrooms, green beans, cabbage…empty that fridge!

Mirepoix for soup

Make the mirepoix: In a saute pan, heat oil over medium low, and saute onions, celery, and carrots until just beginning to soften. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat, and transfer to a stock pot.

Pasta Fajioli AM Northwest

Add broth, sauce, beans, oregano, and black pepper.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Add pasta, parsley, and any additional veggies; simmer, covered, 10-14 minutes or until pasta is tender.

Pasta Fajioli AM Northwest

Stir in meat, and serve with crusty, warm bread.

Yield: 10-12 servings

*To roast your own: Place 6 Roma tomatoes on a very hot grill, under a broiler, or directly on above a gas burner. Char, rotating frequently, until blackened on all sides. Place tomatoes in a large zip bag and seal, allowing them to steam 20-30 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the bag, and peel off most of the charred skin (I ike to leave a little, for flavor). Dice the tomatoes, place in a bowl, sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt, and just cover with hot water. Allow to come to room temp before using the tomatoes and water in this recipe.

Here’s the clip from AM Northwest:

Pasta Fajioli Recipe AM Northwest
Click on image to be redirected to AM Northwest’s video page

 

Tips for Perfect BBQ Chicken (Video)

Perfect BBQ Chicken Thighs Recipe
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Video Text:

Hey, this is Chef Perry, thanks for joining me!

Perfect BBQ Chicken Thighs RecipeToday we’re gonna talk GRILLING. Specifically, some of my favorite tips for grilling chicken. Now, while boneless-skinless chicken breasts are the current darling of the American grill, I almost always opt for thighs instead.

They have more flavor, and are more forgiving than breasts, as they don’t dry out nearly as quickly.

Perfect BBQ Chicken Thighs RecipeTip One: I always brine my chicken for a couple of hours in a simple salt & sugar brine. This adds some flavor, and helps the chicken to retain a lot of moisture.

Tip 2: With chicken, whether it’s boneless thighs, or whole drumsticks, I prefer to dip instead of brush, so I have a bowl of my favorite sauce right next to the grill.

First off, we’re going to get a 2 zone fire going under our grill (see link below). You can do the same thing with a gas grill, by turning one side on HIGH and the other side on LOW (or the outside burners on HIGH and the middle to LOW.)

Brush the thighs with a little oil, and place them on the hot side of the grill. If you brined them, don’t add any salt.

Perfect BBQ Chicken Thighs RecipeOnce they have a little char on both sides, dip each thigh into your sauce bowl, making sure to coat both sides evenly. Place the sauced thighs on the LOW side of the grill, to help set the first layer of glaze.

After a minute or two, flip them over. Once the glaze has set on both sides, dip them again. For a thick sauce, like this one, you probably only need to dip them twice.

For thinner sauces it might take 3 or 4 dips to get a really good glaze.

Put them back on the LOW side, and repeat as needed. If you like a little more char on your chicken, flip the chicken quickly back onto the hot side, just before they’re done. Be careful, most sauces have a lot of sugar, and a “little char” can quickly become a burnt mess.

BBQ Chicken Sandwich on Pretzel BunMy favorite way to serve these thighs is on a toasted pretzel bun with some homemade sesame-cilantro slaw (recipe below).

So, there you go. Any questions? Post them below, or use the contact form!

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