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Working with food means researching and testing new eating habits.
Nowadays the request of vegetarian or vegan dishes is growing more and more.
New ingredients are appeared in my kitchen such as quinoa, various seeds, powder yeast, vegetable milks and so on.
Some of them are now a new habitude in my diet, like almond milk or seeds, others just an interesting test.
I started thinking about the italian diet, the mediterranean one, naturally rich of vegetarian or vegan dishes.
Italian people love their diet, our way of eating has been universally recognized as the healthiest, but, nowdays, how many of us really follow the dictates of the Mediterranean diet?
The consumption of meat has increased exponentially to the detriment of vegetables, cereals and legumes.
Everybody want to eat in a helthier way, we constantly talk about it, but to be honest, after a long and busy day the only supper we can afford is a grilled slice of meat ... quick, easy and unfortunatly cheaper than other alternatives.
Cooking vegetables and legumes takes time, there is no doubt, but if we really want to change the way we feed ourselves we must start to consider an hour spent in the kitchen as a necessity ... and not a hobby.
I love cooking and spending time in my kitchen, but days are not always the same, even for me. Some days are so busy and stressfull that I come back home without having idea about what's in my fridge.
The solution is... be organized!
I always try to find the time to go to the farmer market to buy the vegetables for the whole week.
Back home, I cook more veggies I can. I never cook just few portions of soup, but larger quantities.
Cleaning all the vegetables or blanching them, if needed, are all operations that you can do in advance.
Having a ready soup to heat or some green just to defrost and sautèè with garlic and extra virgin olive oil is a quick operation and the preparation of your weekly suppers became easy... and healthy.
This soup, one again a traditional dish, tied to a catholic feast, needs a long preparation but it's an incredible source of vegetable proteins... according with new habits.
In Sicily, on december 13th, Saint Lucy's day, we eat the "cuccia" from the dialect word "coccio" that means "berry".
The origins of the dish are, as often happens in these cases, lied to a legend.
In 1646 Sicily was bent by a severe famine, on December 13th a ship full of wheat landed in the port. People was too much hungry and they decide to eat the wheat without grinding it.
From that day on December 13th, on sicilian tables the usual dish of pasta leaves the place to this warm and comforting soup, enriched by the different varieties of legumes that give the dish several textures, from creaminess to crunchiness, to the surprising taste of wheat and corn that we usually cosume after grinding them.
It's a long preparation, it's true. The wheat and corn must be soaked in water a couple of days before the cooking, each cereal and legume is is boiled separately according with different cooking times. Just at the end all the ingredients are are gathered in the same pot.
In Sicily, we are still strongly lied to traditions, each family have someone than takes care to prepare the “cuccia“ for the whole family, friends and neighbours and it's the same for me, a small portions of cuccia is always arrived in my Florentine home.
This year I decided to prepare the soup by myself and, without considering how hard it was to find the "cicerchia", an old legume, it was fun mixing traditional legume with strange ones, always respecting the tradition, because a "cuccia" without wheat is not a real one.
500 gr.corn – 500 gr. wheat – 200 gr. mixed beans – 200 gr. chickpeas – 200 gr. lentils – 200 gr. split peas – 1 celery stalk, chopped – 1 big onion, chopped – 2 carrots, chopped – salt pepper – extra virgin olive oil
2 night before
Wash very well corn and wheat, place them in two separate bowls and cover with water. Set aside at room temperature
1 night before
Wash very well mixed beans and chickpeas, place them in two separate bowls and cover with water. Set aside at room temperature.
To prepare the soup:
Boil all the legumes, corn and wheat in separate pots, in light salted water until they will be quit soft. You will need approximately 2 hours for corn and wheat and one hour for the rest.
In another big pan warm about 6 spoons extra virgin olive oil and add in celery, carrots and onion. Cook them until soft and add lentils.
Use the water of the cooked legumes to cover the lentils and let them cook for about 25 minutes a medium low heat. When lentils will be soft but stil “al dente” add the split peas and all the boiled legumes and grains.
Cook the soup for about 15 minutes, taste to season for salt and pepper.
Serve with more extra virgin olive oil.