Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club- New Year, New Food

For this month's Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club, I was given the opportunity to pick the theme. I love trying new foods, so I thought that a great theme for the beginning of a new year would be- New Year, New Food.

Each member of our Supper Club chose a CL recipe that included an ingredient/food that they had never tried before. I was thinking about what food I wanted to try and noticed that there were fresh chestnuts available at my grocery store. I have absolutely no idea what chestnuts are used for and I had never tried them. My only reference for this food was the line "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire", from The Christmas Song.

I wasn't sure if they were really an actual nut, or just happened to have "nut" at the end of their name. (turns out they are an actual nut)
Then I was browsing around the Trader Joe's that just opened recently in my area and saw a package of chestnuts that were already peeled and cooked. The recipe I picked- Farro Minestrone with Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash and Chestnuts called for bottled chestnuts and I figured this find at TJ's was as close as I was going to get to the product I needed.
I also have never tried Farro, but I couldn't find it anywhere, so I used barley instead.

This minestrone was absolutely amazing. The chestnuts were a great addition to this soup. They have a really interesting flavor and texture that blended in with the other flavors magically.
I know the ingredients sounds kind of strange, but I was blown away by how well all the different ingredients went together. I think the pancetta really added a great deal of flavor to the base of the soup. (Thank you Trader Joe's for carrying chopped pancetta, that is ready to use!).

I didn't want the tomatoes to be cooked, so I just stirred them into our individual bowls, leaving them out of certain family member's, who think that tomatoes are deadly.

I was really impressed with this soup. It was so flavorful, so healthy and so delicious.

Here are the new foods that the other members of our Supper Club tried for the first time this month. Jamie tried a recipe using fontina cheese, Sandi picked a roesti casserole (I've had my eye on that dish for awhile now), Val chose quinoa, and Helene wanted to make a flan for the first time- she was unable to participate this month, but we am still including the link to the recipe she was going to try.

Here is how the menu turned out-

Helene - Vanilla Caramel Flan

I hope this has inspired you to try some new ingredients or foods this year. I certainly will be!

Recipe for Farro Minestrone with Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash and Chestnuts
* I used quick cooking barley instead of farro
* I subbed chicken broth for the wine
* I stirred the cherry tomatoes in at the end, after the minestrone was off the heat


bellini valli said...

You really were a new food trier this month Mary Ann with a double whammy of both chestnits and farro. Such a healthy and delicious sounding dish to bring to the Virtual Supper Club!!

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I agree that chestnuts add an interesting flavor... Very Italian!
Come on by and join the blog hop!

Jamie said...

I've never had farro or chestnuts or brussels sprouts for that matter. There really are many foods I haven't tried. What a great theme you picked. It really is good to try different foods. Thanks for sharing and Hapy New Year!

Helene said...

It's fun to try new recipes. This looks yummy.