I’m a sucker for Italian recipes. Maybe it was studying there in college, or spending so much time cooking there on the big trip. Whatever it was, my love of Italian food has stuck with me and always finds it’s way into my cooking.
One common misconception I often hear is the assumption that Italian food is heavy, filled with processed carbs, and terrible for you. It is certainly easy to find unhealthy Italian food that lives up to this stereotype, but also very possible to find clean, nutritious and plant-filled Italian food. This is one of those dishes — it’s filled with fresh flavors, simple ingredients, and loads of nutrients!
- 1 can white beans (cannellini or great northern), rinsed
- 1 large bunch of kale, chopped
- 2-3 cups of diced tomatoes - either from a box, or fresh chopped tomatoes
- 2 red onions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional - grated parmesan
- Sauté garlic and onion in olive oil on medium/high heat for five minutes or until they become aromatic.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, white beans, and vinegar and sauté for 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes have cooked down and thickened.
- Fold in the kale and continue cooking for 3 minutes, or until the kale has wilted.
- Top with salt, pepper, and grated parmesan cheese.
Interestingly different nutrients are more bioavailable to the body depending on how they are prepared. In this dish, the cancer-fighting phytochemical lycopene is intensified the longer the tomatoes cook. The cooking helps break down the cell walls and allows the body better access to the lycopene. My Quattro Pomodoro Sauce is another terrific source of slow cooked tomatoes.
I’m not suggesting that food is always more nutritious when cooked, because that is certainly not the case. But as part of my inclusive diet, I like to understand and celebrate the goodness that each dish gives me. In this case the high lycopene content in the cooked tomatoes, fiber-filled beans, and mineral-rich kale all stand out.
I like this dish on it’s own, but it’s also delicious tossed into quinoa pasta or served over polenta. Play around and see how you like it best!