I love Italian food. My mother is Italian, and I grew up eating Italian food on a regular basis along with many American staples such as meatloaf. Now here is the shocking part to most people. In all the time I lived with my parents, the only time I can remember having a PASTA dinner, was when we had company. Yes we had lasagna and spaghetti, but they would have been only part of dinner. We frequently ate pasta like most people ate potatoes. Fish stew with beans, and pork chops with fennel were two my favorite food's growing up. These would have been served with a big salad, more vegetables, and yes, crusty bread and lots of olive oil. Traditional foods have a soul satisfying effect that no modern convenience can match. Our ancestors, both recent and not so recent, knew how to eat for health and comfort. Prior to the 20th century, heart disease was a virtual unknown. T2 Diabetes has only in the past few years become a threat to anyone but the old and infirm. If we look back at the traditional foods of Italy, France, Germany, and every other country that sent it children to the American shores, we will find how we need to eat for our future. While the folks in each region adapted to the foods that were available and grew well, none of them ate a low fat diet. To make a gross over generalization, if we were to assign calories as percentages it would look something like 30C-30P-40F. Not a low fat or a low carb diet, but certainly less carbs then most eat today. There was no refined white flour ( except France in the 19th century), no partially hydrogenated fats, no red dye number 6 etc. Just real food. To make a concrete example, A sandwich with wonder bread, oscar meyer bologna, sliced velveeta, miracle whip, and a coke vs. whole grain sourdough bread, slow cooked pork, raw organic cheese, olive oil, and wine or beer. Which would you rather eat, and which do you think is better for you?
Fish Stew with Beans
Traditionally this would be made with Salt Cod, but I've used many different fish with success
1 lb firm white fish
2 cups Cooked Cannellini beans (can use canned if needed just rinse them well)
2 cups Diced Tomatoes (May used canned)
1 cup stock (may sub half with wine)
1 small onion chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
thyme, orgeno,salt,pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste
Heat butter and oil in a heavy skillet on med heat. When oil is at temperature, add onions and red pepper and saute till onion is soft. Add garlic and cook for a minute then add stock, tomatoes, beans and seasonings. bring to a simmer. Place fish on top of stew and cover tightly. Cook till fish is done, it should fall apart. When serving, drizzle with olive oil, and a dash of fresh romano cheese.