It is easy to feel nostalgic at this time of the year when seeing the summer slipping away to be replaced by autumnal air. Most people, by now, have already forgotten their summer holidays and are back to their busy everyday life.
But is there any way we can ever feel the spirit of our holidays during the long and cold winter months? To me the only way is to pack and preserve summery fruit and vegetables and to enjoy them during the winter. It is like putting a little bit of summer away in a jar and opening it up for the smell and fragrance of the fruits; memories of holidays and hot summer days can come back in an instant.
My grandma (or “nonna” in italian) always used to preserve apricots in jars and they were delicious in the winter, nothing like the canned ones you’ll find in supermarkets. They would definitely not smell of the summer!
During the month of August in Italy I stocked up on fresh Borlotti beans, shelled them, with the help of my children, who have become quite quick at the job now, and we put them in freezer bags. Now my freezer is full of them. I use them when I make minestrone. Their taste is buttery and just so delicious. Adding them to a soup makes a huge difference.
Of course I appreciate that it is not easy to get hold of fresh beans in the UK so the best alternative is to buy dried ones which you will need to soak overnight and then cook. They do taste nice and they are great on their own or to be enjoyed in a minestrone.
To make one is dead easy. First you cook the beans in cold water, whether dry or fresh ones they will need about 1 hour to cook.
Chop chunky bits of vegetables, all the types you like possibly including a couple of potatoes too.
Put them in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add salt and pepper too and cook for about 45 minutes with the top on.
Add the cooked beans, 1 or 2 tbsp of olive oil and serve with plenty of grated Parmesan cheese! A meal fit for a king!