My mother and father in law have been eating nothing but restaurant food for the last two months, with so much going on in their lives, and tonight I wanted to give them a delicious home cooked meal that filled their bellies and treated them to something different than they've been eating lately.
Since they're vegetarians, this was a great time to introduce meatless meals into my family's week. Old fashioned Italian minestrone and spinach artichoke stuffed white mushrooms. I stuffed myself silly, and never even noticed the lack of meat.
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 red onions, chopped
2 cups chopped celery
5 carrots, sliced
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
4 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups baby spinach, rinsed
3 zucchinis, quartered and sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 package medium shells, cooked
Freshly grated Parmesan for topping
Heat olive oil in a stock pot. Saute garlic on medium low for about two minutes. Add onion and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Add carrots and celery, mix well, and cook for five minutes. Stir in water, broth, wine, and tomato sauce. Mix well and cook to a simmer. Add in kidney beans, zucchini, baby spinach, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Mix well and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes. While waiting, boil 1/2 a package of shells to al dente. When the soup is ready, put about 1/2 a cup of pasta in the bottom of a soup bowl. Ladle minestrone over the top. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan and fresh basil.
Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms
25 white mushrooms, stems removed and gills scraped out
4 ounces cream cheese
2/3 cup mayonnaise
14 ounce can of artichoke hearts, excess liquid squeezed out and finely diced
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp sugar
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Pinch ground red pepper
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine softened cream cheese, mayo, artichoke hearts, spinach, garlic, sugar, Parmesan, and red pepper. Mix well. Stuff mushrooms and place in a baking sheet with sides (the mushrooms will secrete excess liquid while baking) and grate some extra Parmesan over the top. Bake 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned.
I hope they enjoyed dinner as much as I did. I served sliced Italian bread with a balsamic/olive oil mixture beforehand and the soup alongside a mozzarella, pesto, and sun dried tomato grilled cheese brushed with olive oil. It doesn't get much better than this.