Recipes: Easy one-pot Italian dinners from Milk Street’s Christopher Kimball
Keep it simple and speedy with garlicky chard and sausage with chickpeas, a Tuscan beef stew, or pasta con fagioli.
These recipes are part of a new partnership between Christopher Kimball and the cooks at Milk Street and the Globe Magazine’s Cooking column.
Whether we have hours or minutes, at Milk Street we love the ease of one-pot dinners. In our Garlicky Chard and Sausage With Fried Chickpeas, meaty sausage and tender chard are paired with beans fried until lightly crunchy. In our Tuscan Beef and Black Pepper Stew, coarsely ground peppercorns contribute texture as well as pops of heat, while browned tomato paste adds richness, and fresh rosemary stirred in at the end lightens with herbal flavors. And in Pasta con Fagioli, the pasta is only partially cooked in salted water. It finishes in the flavorful sauce, absorbing hits of fennel and red pepper.
Garlicky Chard and Sausage With Fried Chickpeas
Makes 4 servings
This one-pot meal was inspired by a recipe in Autentico: Cooking Italian, the Authentic Way by Rolando Beramendi, who, in turn, borrowed the recipe from Trattoria Cammillo in Florence, Italy. We particularly liked the color that rainbow chard brought to the dish, but any variety works. To separate the leaves from the stems, cut along each side of the center vein.
Don’t coat the chickpeas with cornstarch without first drying them thoroughly with paper towels. Excess moisture will cause the oil to splatter and prevent the chickpeas from crisping.
1 15½-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
12 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
6 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 bunches rainbow chard, stems sliced ½ inch thick and leaves torn into rough 3-inch reserved separately
2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar
1½ teaspoons fennel seeds
½ cup drained jarred peperoncini, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into thin rings, plus 1 teaspoon brine
In a medium bowl, sprinkle the chickpeas with the cornstarch, then toss to coat. Transfer to a mesh strainer and shake to remove excess cornstarch.
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat ¼ cup of the oil until shimmering. Add the chickpeas and cook, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and toss with the coriander, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
Return the Dutch oven to medium-high, add the remaining ¼ cup oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook, stirring and breaking it into bite-size pieces, until evenly browned all over, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic, chard stems, sugar, and fennel. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic is golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chard leaves, 1½ teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cover, reduce to medium, and cook until the leaves are just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the peperoncini and brine.
Remove from the heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving platter, top with the fried chickpeas, and drizzle with additional oil.
Tuscan Beef and Black Pepper Stew (Peposo Alla Fornacina)
Makes 6 servings
The simple, generously peppered beef stew known as peposo is said to have been created by kiln workers in 15th-century Tuscany. Chianti is the region’s best-known wine and is the traditional choice for peposo, but any dry, medium-bodied red wine works well. Make sure to use coarsely ground black pepper, as it has more presence and better coats the beef. The stew can be made up to three days ahead and reheated in the microwave or in a saucepan over low. Serve over polenta, rice, or noodles.
1 6- to 7-pound boneless beef chuck roast, well trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
12 medium garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 sprigs rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
2 cups dry red wine
Heat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the lower-middle position. Place the beef in a large bowl, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt and 2 tablespoons pepper, then toss.
In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until onion is lightly browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the paste begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Nestle the beef and rosemary sprigs in the onion mixture, cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours.
Remove the pot from the oven. Stir, then return to the oven uncovered. Cook until a knife inserted into a piece of beef meets no resistance, another 1 to 1½ hours.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a medium bowl. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a fat separator or a medium bowl. Pour the meat juices into the strainer and press on the solids to push them through the strainer; discard any solids left behind.
Pour the wine into the now-empty pot and bring to a boil over medium-high, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce to medium and simmer until the wine is syrupy and reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, if you strained the meat juices into a bowl, use a spoon to skim off and discard the fat from the surface.
Pour the defatted meat juices into the pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, 5 to 7 minutes. Return the beef to the pot, add the minced rosemary, and stir gently. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 teaspoons pepper, then taste and season with salt.
Pasta Con Fagioli
Makes 6 servings
In Italy, dried borlotti beans (often called cranberry beans in the United States) are used. For weeknight ease, we opted for canned beans. Some producers label canned borlotti beans “Roman beans.” If you cannot find them, use pink or kidney beans, which have a similar creaminess and mildly sweet flavor. Don’t use cannellini beans, which are too tender. The pasta is boiled only until very slightly softened, then drained and rinsed to stop the cooking. It finishes cooking when combined with the beans and vegetables.
Don’t rinse the canned beans after draining them; the starchy liquid clinging to them adds body to the sauce.
8 ounces campanelle or other short pasta
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes
1 large red onion, chopped
1 large fennel bulb, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 15½-ounce cans Roman beans (see note), drained but not rinsed
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 ounces Pecorino romano cheese, grated (1 cup)
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking water, then drain pasta and rinse with cold water until cool; set aside.
Wipe out the pot and return it to medium-high. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil until barely smoking. Add the tomatoes, then cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly charred and have burst, about 5 minutes. Stir in the onion, sliced fennel, and ½ teaspoon salt, then cook on medium-high, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, rosemary, fennel seeds, and pepper flakes, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the beans, broth, and ½ cup of the reserved cooking water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high. Cover, reduce to medium, and cook, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
Add the reserved pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until pasta is al dente and the sauce is creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. If needed, add the remaining reserved cooking water 1 tablespoon at a time to reach the proper consistency. Off heat, stir in the lemon zest and juice and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the cheese and additional oil for drizzling.