I’ve said this on the blog before, but ask Tim his favorite kind of food and he’ll say peasant-style Italian. Simple Italian. Classic Italian. The kind of food that our great-grandmothers would have been making back in the old country. From homemade pasta to rustic soups, give my man a meal that celebrates the original flavors of things like tomatoes and greens, especially with a nice olive oil and garlic base, and he’s happy. And as is often the case when someone truly likes something and then shares it with you, he’s won me over 100 percent. I tell you that to explain why, when we decided to take up the challenge of a dinner for four for under $10, we immediately thought of what we enjoy most: a meal built around oily, wilted greens, with tomatoes and garlic and, in this case, beans. Healthy ingredients including organic baby kale, organic baby spinach, organic kidney beans and organic garlic granules, and the entire thing comes together in less than half an hour flat.
You start with a pan of oil and spices to which you add the canned kidney beans. Then, in another pot, you sauté chopped onion in olive oil. Add canned organic tomatoes and two big containers of organic greens to the onion. Add the beans and organic broth to that. The whole thing comes to a boil and, voila, bing, bang, boom, there you go: dinner with a throwback to Tim’s childhood, Italian kitchens and my first foray into the world of loving greens.
While working on this project, we also made an organic quinoa salad, cooked up some last-minute salmon, polished off an entire bag of organic sweet potato tortilla chips in the car and tested a hamburger version of this Italian stew.
Italian-Style Beans and Greens Soup
Inspired by a classic Italian soup that Tim remembers fondly from his childhood, this soup pairs flavorful kidney beans with softened greens, tomatoes and onion. It’s a savory, comforting meal that celebrates the best of Italian peasant fare. And with ingredients purchased from Aldi, the entire meal costs just under $10 total*.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cans organic kidney beans
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon organic garlic granules
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion (from about 1 small onion)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
14 ounces (1/2 can) organic diced tomatoes
10 ounces organic baby spinach or kale (2 clamshell containers)
3 cups organic chicken stock
1 cup water
Warm two tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add kidney beans, black pepper, salt, garlic granules and red chili flakes and cook, stirring often, until beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a large stockpot over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add diced onion, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook until onions are translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and greens, stirring them into the mixture to coat it with the oil and onions. At first it will seem like too much spinach for the pot, but don’t worry it will cook down.
As soon as the spinach has wilted, add the prepared beans to the pot. Add the organic chicken stock. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and serve!
*Total does not include typical kitchen staples like olive oil, salt, pepper, etc. that were used in small amounts here, mostly because figuring out the cost of one tablespoon of a bottle of olive oil seemed a little intense.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.