Snowflakes in Southern California

snowflake.jpgJeff and I go to the gym early every morning. Since it’s still dark out when we leave, it’s been pretty chilly lately. This morning when I turned the key in the ignition, the dashboard starting flashing. It also began to beep—a subtle bing, like the musical “fasten your seatbelt” bing that you hear on airplanes. “Great,” I sighed, “something else is broken.”

Jeff, never one to presume the worst,leaned over, looked intently at the dashboard, and said matter-of-factly, “Nothing’s broken.” “It’s not?” “No. It’s just a snowflake,” he said. “What’s just a snowflake?” I asked. “On the dashboard. Look at the temperature,” he said. It read 39 degrees. And there it was—a cute little snowflake.

Apparently Volkswagen was thoughtful enough to alert its drivers when it’s cold outside. Having driven the car only in Southern California, we had never seen it before. If this keeps up, I’m gonna have to ask my mom to let me borrow some of those gloves and scarves I gave to her when we moved here.

Speaking of my mom, when I was growing up, I don’t think I went a week during the winter without eating a hot, delicious bowl of her escarole and beans. It was a classic Friday night quick dinner typically served with crusty Italian bread. No matter how often I ate it, I never, ever tired of it. It’s one of the dishes that Jeff and I crave when we’re feeling blue for home or feeling chilled, like we do today. When you eat it, it makes you feel warm and comfortable.

I have absolutely no proof that Progresso cannelini beans will make this dish taste better, but my mom used them, so I use them, and so should you. They really are extra creamy and tasty. I usually make a big batch of this; it’s one of the few foods I love as a leftover.

escarolebeans.jpgMom's Italian Escarole and Bean Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large head of escarole, chopped (about 10-12 cups)
1 15-ounce can of cannelini beans (rinsed)
1 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (or more if you’d like it soupier)
Lots of crushed red pepper flakes
Salt, to taste
Lots of good grated Reggiano Parmigiano cheese (preferably from Dad)

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes. Add chopped escarole, and toss occasionally, about 4-5 minutes, until it wilts. Add beans, crushed tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and salt. Heat through for 2-3 minutes more. Remove from heat; (this will help the escarole stay bright green).

Top with grated cheese before serving.


- Originally published on Susan Russo's site FoodBlogga.