Tuesday, 31 January 2012

General Comments About Food in Cuba

So we had a great time in Cuba. We both loved it a lot, especially the people. I hardly met a one who wasn't awfully nice, even the ones who tried to scam us. (It is definitely a bit trying to be a tourist in a third world country. We were obviously foreign, and so obviously rich, and therefore we were targets for constant sales pitches and scam attempts.) In spite of that, as I said, we loved it. It was so warm, so sunny, and the architecture was beautiful.

We had been told by a lot of people before we left that the food in Cuba is bad. Not true! We were told the food is plain, and repetitive. That is true. Of course it varied a bit from place to place depending on who was cooking and what they were charging, but in general we ate well. My sister-in-law described Cuban food to us before we left as "very food-like". She was right.

We started off every breakfast, as above with plates of fresh fruit, peeled and sliced and presented without further embelishment. Why would it need it? It was lovely fruit.

In addition to fruit breakfast included hot coffee with hot milk, and toast or pastries. This casa particular, in Havana, (en el Vedado) provided some pretty fancy little pastries, different ones every day from a bakery. As far as I could see, there was next to no home baking in Cuba. Very few people have ovens. On this day there was also guava paste. The other places we were at just supplied toast and jam. Then, everyone offered eggs, usually as an omelet but your choice. After a few days Mom and I had to drop the eggs. They were just too much.

Something I had never had before is Malanga. It is more commonly known as eddoes in English, and it is very much like taro. Here Mr. Ferdzy is about to eat some malanga fritters in one of the fancier restaurants we went to. But most Cubans don't do anything fancy with malanga, and don't regard it as anything special. It's pretty common, and I suspect it's always relatively cheap and available, meaning it gets eaten a lot regardless of how you feel about it. A bit like Canadians used to be with rutabaga.

This is an absolutely typical Cuban meal, as served to tourists, anyway. It starts with fried meat (top right corner), rice and beans, boiled malanga, tostones (fried plantain), more rice and beans, and sliced tomatoes and peppers. Lightly marinated onions are used as a garnish. All of these items came up again and again, with minor variations. I loved the tostones, and this was one of the best malanga dishes we had. It had been cut in pieces and simply boiled, but in salted water which gave it a better flavour than most we had.

This was an absolutely typical salad. There was always shredded cabbage and leaf lettuce, and tomatoes. Then there was often onions, cucumber and/or carrots. This one also had canned beans, which we got a few times in salads. Dressing was always oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. I have read a number of comments claiming there isn't any pepper in Cuba. In fact there was always ground pepper at every table I ate at, but it wasn't black pepper, it was white pepper, so I think a lot of people are simply failing to recognize it. Salads were consistently fresh and good, and it was a pleasure to be able to eat them, and all the fruits, without fear of danger due to bad water quality.

The seafood was fantastic. This was grilled shrimp and lobster tails, along with a few tostones. The shrimp were superb. The lobsters were more like giant shrimp than like Canadian lobsters, and my Mom and Mr. Ferdzy both liked them better than Canadian lobsters. Heretics! Ingrates! Traitors! Although I admit I'd be very happy to eat either.

At one point we stayed in a small apartment that had a "kitchen" and I had a go at doing some cooking myself. There was a single burner hot-plate, with a choice of hot, hotter and hottest, so my efforts at cooking rice with vegetables were a bit fraught. I did manage to produce something edible and even tasty, but it was touch and go. The above is a really typical market selection. There were large white onion, small red onions, and garlic everywhere. Perhaps half a dozen common peppers, almost all sweet. And those tomatoes were really quite ripe. For some reason the Cuban tomatoes we got were generally redder on the inside than on the outside. We confirmed there are a number of varieties of tomato grown in Cuba, but the ones we had were all very similar in flavour; acidic and juicy but not seedy. Very nice, actually.

In addition to buying almost all their baked goods - and I can't tell you how many times I saw people walking down the street carrying a cake - on a plate, not wrapped - there were food vendors all over the place. This guy is selling a selection of small pastries I believe.

We talked about what kind of business we would have if we were Cubans. (Yes, we are weird.) We decided that home-made potato chips would be the way to go. We did see ONE guy in Havana selling home-made chips and popcorn, but only the one, and after we had come to our conclusion. But we saw people roaming the streets selling all kinds of things, from yucca, beans, strings of onions and garlics, to breads and pastries.

The national dish of Cuba seems to be pizza. There are little shops all over the place, many of them out of what is someones front living room. This one was near our apartment in Cienfuegos, and had exceptionally good pizza. Also a common item to sell out of your front room was ice-cream. We got some for 4 pesos a scoop. Yes, it was a small scoop. But dudes... that's 14 cents. (I wont' get into the money here, but there's 2 kinds of money in Cuba: real pesos, used by the locals, and soak-us-we're-tourists money, known as C.U.C.s. Hijinks and hilarity ensues.)

A peek inside. Unfortunately I was at the wrong time to get them coming out of the oven. Very plain; little sauce, no seasoning, just a sprinkling of cheese. And yet, very tasty somehow! And the price was hard to beat. I believe these might have been about 12 pesos - about 48 cents. A bit more expensive than average - they seemed to run from 7 pesos to about 12.

More shrimp! I ate them at every opportunity. I was surprised to discover they were likely farmed. They were firm, sweet and flavourful, everything I associate with wild shrimp. Definitely not like the farmed shrimp which we get here in Canada, which are always bland and soggy. I have given up getting shrimp here at all, they are always such a disappointment. These ones were in a lovely sauce, with sour orange juice and tomato sauce. They were described as "camarones enchiladas" meaning shrimp in chile sauce. The chiles are plainly very sweet mild ones; and this is nothing like a Mexican enchilada sauce.

And there were are, eating the shrimp. We went out for a day trip towards the end, and Jorge, our taxi driver, took the picture. He brought us to this restaurant because he and his family had stayed at a nearby resort, and he had eaten here before. An excellent choice! Many thanks to Jorge, Cesar, Janila, Acelo, Felongo, Emilio, Carlos, Jorbel, Eduardo, Tania and Adrian, and all the many other Cubans whos names have escaped me, who's kindness and generosity made our trip such a pleasure.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Irish Potato Scones

Well, we've been back from Cuba for a week, and I'm having a hard time getting back into regular life, but it's time to start making the attempt. I have to say I loved Cuba, and am already plotting how we can go back. I will also have a few posts to put up about it this week, I hope.

Meanwhile, there's still a ton of potatoes in the basement. I've made Scottish Potato Scones before. These are similiar, having less flour and so retaining a consistency half-way between a vegetable dish and a bread, where the Scottish ones are definitely bread-y. I can never decide which ones I like better, but it depends how I'm eating them I guess. I obviously don't peel my potatoes before I mash them, although of course you can if you want. These could have been a bit browner in my opinion, but I didn't have any bacon fat and had to use oil. I think it doesn't crisp up as nicely without the bacon fat, but these were still good.

12 scones
30 minutes - prep time, not including cooking the potatoes

Irish Potato Scones
2 cups mashed potatoes
1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
2 medium shallots OR 1 small onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 extra-large egg
2/3 cup soft unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon bacon fat OR vegetable oil

The potatoes should be boiled, mashed and cooled; in other words leftover is fine, although they should not be too laden with butter and milk and so a bit on the stiff side. That's a good quantity of potato to be left over too, so it is best to plan in advance and set 2 cups of potatoes aside when they are first made.

Peel and mince the shallots or onion, and cook them gently in the butter until soft but not browned. Let cool and add to the potatoes.

Meanwhile, add the egg, flour and baking powder to the potatoes. Once the shallots go in, mix well. The result should be a stiff but workable dough; if not you may need to add a bit more flour.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Pat the dough out on a well-floured surface, using plenty of flour to dust your hands and the dough, to prevent sticking. It should be a scant half-inch, or about a centimetre, thick. Place on an oiled baking tray (or parchment paper on a baking tray) and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until firm and lightly browned around the edges. Best eaten hot, but perfectly acceptable when cold.

Last year at this time I made Belgian Endive with Blood Oranges & Honey and Mashed Celeriac with Buttery Leeks.

Friday, 20 January 2012

German Butterball Potatoes

German Butterball Potatoes
I've been hearing about these potatoes for several years, so this spring when Eagle Creek had some for sale we decided it was time to give them a try. I'm glad we did! This is an excellent potato.

German Butterballs are a late season potato, ready in 120 days or so. I have to say, ours went on and on and on - they took much longer than our Russet Burbanks to die down and I think if the weather had not started to get cold they could have gone on growing even longer.

Like the Russet Burbanks, we grew them in a raised box, and covered them with soil as they grew, in the hopes of producing a bumper crop. You can read about that process here. The German Butterballs produced 88 pounds of potatoes in the box, compared to at least 100 pounds for the same amount of Russets planted. That was, I believe, 2 kilos of seed potatoes (hard to believe it was 2 pounds, but they don't have their package size listed at the moment, and I can't find my receipt. Anybody know?) Edited: Eagle Creek have their sizes back up again, and it WAS 2 pounds (1 kilo). Amazing!

At any rate, it's hard to complain about a harvest like that, even though I did feel like there was an awful lot of dirt in the box in proportion to the amount of potato. They seemed to form potatoes at the bottom, where the original potato was planted, and at the top near the soil, but not in between, unlike the Russet Burbanks which were scattered throughout the soil.

The German Butterball plants were extremely rampant. They grew all down the sides of their growing box and pretty much engulfed the next-door blueberry bed. They had white flowers and produced more seed-balls than I have ever seen on any of the other potatoes I've grown. I've saved a few in the hopes of starting some potatoes from true seed, and seeing what I get. They are said to be disease resistant.

As for the potatoes themselves, the name is very apt. They are a roundish to slightly elongated, mid-sized potato, although somewhat variable in size. The flesh is a bright yellow, the skins are a slightly russeted beige. We are having some trouble telling them apart from the Russet Burbanks until we cut them, although in general the Russet Burbanks are larger and longer. They are compared by some people to Yukon Gold potatoes because of their colour, but I consider them a far superior potato. (Not hard. Yukon Gold have a strange, sweetish flavour that I really quite dislike.) Everyone who has eaten them around here has enthused over them, including me. They are really delicious. They are also very versatile, good for baking, boiling, mashing and frying. I'm told they store well, although that has yet to be seen.

German Butterball is described as an heirloom potato, but it is very hard to find anything about its history. Apparently it was introduced to commerce in 1988 by David Ronniger, of Ronnigers Potatoes, but I can find no further information.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Flan de Coco

Flan is THE quintessential hispanic dessert, and in tropical climes it has picked up a few twists... like coconut. Very yummy. And also very, very rich. Smallish portions are probably indicated.

Caramel is pretty easy to make. The big secret is not to stir it once it gets cooking, but don't leave it alone as it will turn colour very quickly once it goes.

8 to 12 servings
2 hours - 30 minutes prep time

Make the Caramel:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

If you can, put the sugar and water right in the flan mold and cook it directly on the stove. If your flan mold is not able to do that, put the sugar and water into a large pot. Stir once to dissolve, then cook without stirring again but watching it constantly, until it turns a deep golden brown. Either swirl it around the flan pan until it sets, or rapidly pour it into your flan pan, and swirl it around until it sets. It will set quite rapidly.

Make the Flan:
1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded dessicated coconut
2 398 ml tins coconut milk
plus light cream to make 4 cups
8 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup dark rum

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put a large shallow baking tray in the oven, and pour water into it, allowing for the fact that you must put in the flan tin - so it must fit in - and the water should not be so much that it would overflow once you add the flan tin.

Put the dessicated coconut into the caramelized flan tin, spreading it out fairly evenly.

Pour the coconut milk into a 4 cup measure, and add light cream to make 4 cups - probably about half a cup or so of cream.

Whisk together the eggs, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl, then mix in the coconut milk and cream. Mix in the vanilla and rum. Pour this into the prepared flan tin.

Place the flan tin carefully into the tray of water in the oven. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 and one half hours, until golden brown on top, and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely. Set the flan tin into a dish of very hot water, and run a knife carefully around the edges. Jiggle it a little, and once you can see it is loose, put a serving dish with a lip (to catch the sauce) over the top of the flan tin, and turn it over quickly. Ta da! Coconut flan.

Monday, 16 January 2012


This simple, hash-like dish is quick, easy and inexpensive. Again with the olive and raisin combination, this time maybe with eggs, which I always think of as being a very Chilean combination. Maybe it's actually Spanish, although I can't say I came across it in Spain. Maybe I was in the wrong places though. It certainly seems to be a thing.

4 to 6 servings
1 hour prep time

2 medium onions
1 large green pepper
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 or 3 tablespoons tomato paste

500 grams (1 pound) ground beef
250 grams (1/2 pound) ground pork or chopped ham
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons cumin seed, ground
1 1/2 teaspoons rubbed oregano
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons sherry

2 medium potatoes
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup stuffed green olives, chopped
4 to 6 eggs (optional)

Peel and chop the onions. Wash, destem and deseed and chop the pepper. Peel and mince the garlic.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Cook the onions and pepper gently, until softened and reduced. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes, until well amalgamated.

Crumble the beef and pork into the sofrito (the mixture in the pan) and add the seasonings, sherry vinegar, and sherry. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently and breaking up any large clumps of meat.

Meanwhile, wash and dice the potatoes, and boil them until barely tender. Drain them and add them to the picadillo. Add the raisins and the olive, roughly chopped.

Serve the picadillo over steamed rice and if you like, top each serving with a fried or poached egg.

Last year at this time I made soup with Blue Pod Capucijners.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Ropa Vieja with Alcaparrado

Aaaand another Cuban dish just about everyone knows. The Cubans do a lot of soupy, stewy dishes, much more Spanish influenced than on most other Caribbean islands. Or not so much more influenced, as less influenced by other things, and by other things I mean spicy things. Cuban cooking is fairly mild, with many dishes starting out with a sofrito, that is onion and green peppers cooked soft in oil then cooked some more with tomatoes of some kind. That's what happens here. Seasonings are cumin and oregano, almost always, and the Alcaparrado is also very typical; a mix of olives, capers and raisins.

4 servings
45 minutes not including pre-cooking the beef (2 hours)

Ropa Vieja with Alcaparrado
Pre-Cook the Beef:
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
500 grams (1 pound) flank or skirt steak
salt & pepper to taste
2 cups water
2 or 3 bay leaves

Heat the oil in a skillet. Cook the steak, patted dry, on both sides until nicely browned, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. When it is well browned, add the water and the bay leaves, and simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Keep the meat and the broth from cooking it in separate containers in the fridge until wanted.

Make the Dish:
1 large onion
1 large red pepper
1 large green pepper
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
2 teaspoons cumin seed, ground
1 1/2 teaspoons rubbed oregano
4 cloves of garlic
2 or 3 cups crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoon red wine or sherry vinegar

Peel the onion and cut it into slivers. Wash and destem the peppers, and cut them into similar sized slivers. Heat the oil in a large skillet, and add the onions and peppers. Cook, stirring regularly, until they soften. Do not let them brown. Add the ground cumin seed and the oregano.

Meanwhile, peel and mince the garlic. When the vegetables are well on the way to being cooked down, add the garlic and cook it for just a minute or two. Add the tomatoes and the broth from cooking the meat, and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture is amalgamated and somewhat reduced.

While that is happening, shred the meat into long strands. This can be done by pulling strands off with a fork, but I always remember the family motto: "fingers were invented before forks." Once done, add the beef strands to the pan along with the vinegar and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until everything in the pan is very well acquainted. It should be moist and juicy, so you may need to add more broth or water or tomatoes, if it shows signs of drying out.

Make the Alcaparrado:
1 or 2 teaspoons drained capers
8 to 12 stuffed green olives
2 tablespoons raisins
1 tablespoon roasted red pepper

Chop together the capers, olives and raisins, to form a coarse relish texture. The red pepper should be mashed quite smooth. Mix it in to hold the alcaparrado together. (I admit that for the red pepper I used a bit of my Ajvar. Why not? It was good.)

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Cuban Black Bean Soup

This very classic Cuban soup is usually made with a meaty ham-bone or smoked hock. I made mine vegetarian, as I had a vegetarian guest at the time, but if you want to add it back in, there is no reason not to.

8 to 12 servings
1 hour prep time, not including cooking the beans

Cook the Beans:
450 grams (1 pound) dried black beans
8 cups of water
3 or 4 bay leaves

Rinse the beans and put them in a large pot with the water and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat off. Leave them covered for an hour or two. Repeat, until the beans are fairly soft. Once they are close to being done, leave them on a simmer for an hour or so until completely cooked. This can be done a day in advance.

Make the Sofrito:
2 stalks of celery
2 medium onions
1 large green pepper
4 to 6 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
2 teaspoons rubbed oregano
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, ground
1 teaspoon smoked sweet Spanish paprika
1 cup tomato sauce

Wash, trim and finely dice the celery. Peel and finely dice the onions. Destem and deseed the pepper, and cut it in fine dice. Peel and mince the garlic.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Cook the celery, onions and pepper until soft but not browned. Add the oregano, cumin, paprika and garlic, and stir until well combined and fragrant. Add the tomato sauce and cook for another 20 minutes or so, until the whole is well amalgamated and somewhat reduced.

Finish the Soup:
4 cups ham, chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup rum
finely chopped sweet onion, steamed rice, OR sour cream

Meanwhile, drain the beans and return them to the pot with the broth. Pick out the bay leaves. Bring the beans to a simmer.

When the sofrito is ready, add it to the beans. Simmer for a few minutes. Remove about one third to one half of the soup, and purée it, or at least mash it very thoroughly. Return it to the pot.

Just before serving, add the lime juice and rum and heat through. Serve traditionally, with chopped raw sweet onion and spoonfuls of steamed white rice, or with sour cream. Since I was serving the soup as a "primero" in a larger meal, I did not serve it with any rice.

Last year at this time I made Bean & Barley Burgers.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Bocadito Elena Ruz

Bocadito Elena Ruz
Hey everyone! I'm not here right now, but at the sound of the beep...

Oh, wait; that's not right. Let me try again. Hey, everyone! I'm not here right now. I'm in Cuba! Yes, Cuba! For 2 weeks. In preparation for this momentous occasion I have made a few Cuban dishes which will, thanks to the miracle of modern computing, appear at intervals until I return; at least, that's the plan. We'll see.

This one is a simple sandwich of cream cheese, strawberry preserves, and sliced cooked chicken or turkey on a plain white or slightly sweet sandwich bread (challah, for instance). It was invented in the 1930's at the request of a young Cuban socialite who would go seeking a late-night snack at one of Havana's trendy cafes. It's also very handy if you still have any leftover Christmas turkey around, and if you decide to put in cranberry sauce rather than strawberries preserves, well, it will be much less Cuban but perfectly tasty. It's traditionally toasted, but you don't have to. It's a sandwich, - a bocadito, - for heaven's sake.

Anyway, a very happy new year to all, and I'll "see" you when I get back.

Last year at this time I made Caroline's Low-Sugar Sweet Potato Cake.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Peanut Brittle

I've had candy thermometers at various times, but either they haven't worked or I do not have what it takes to use them properly. It's not like I need to be making candy anyway, but there are a few things that are fairly foolproof and can be done without one.

We used our! own! homegrown! peanuts for this, which was very exciting, but you could use any nuts you like, or pumpkin, sunflower or sesame seeds for that matter.

Making Peanut Brittle
The sugar should turn a good definite dark brown, even a little darker than in the photo although, of course, you don't want to burn it.

Peanut Brittle
2 cups shelled roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (optional)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt

Have the peanuts measured and ready. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper, and grease it generously with the butter.

Put the sugar and honey into a fairly deep, heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring only once at the beginning to get the sugar dissolved.

Once the mixture is boiling briskly, but in no danger of boiling over, let it boil for another 4 to 5 minutes, watching it closely but not stirring. When it turns to a deep golden brown, remove it from the heat at once. Mix in the peanuts, and the baking soda if you want to add it. This will give the peanut brittle a very different texture, as it will make it full of tiny bubbles.

Spread the hot peanut mixture out on the prepared parchment paper, spreading it as evenly and as thinly as you can. Sprinkle the salt over the top evenly. If you used the baking soda, use less salt. If you did not use baking soda, you can use a little more salt. Let the brittle set for several hours in a cool spot, then break it up and store it between sheets of parchment paper in a sealed tin.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Pizza Mushrooms

If you can find a little oven space, these are an easy appetizer to make and very tasty. You can use other pizza-type toppings instead of the pepperoni if you like; maybe stuffed olives, chopped ham or green peppers.

36 large mushrooms
45 minutes - 15 minutes prep time

Pizza Mushrooms
36 large button mushrooms
200 grams (1/2 pound) cheddar or mozzarella cheese
1 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon oregano
100 grams (1/4 pound) pepperoni

Clean the mushrooms, and remove the stems. Reserve the stems for some other use. Set the mushrooms on a baking tray, gills up. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Grate the cheese and mix it with the tomato and oregano. Chop up the pepperoni and mix it in as well. Spoon this mixture into the mushroom caps. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot.

They will exude a lot of juice as they bake, so make sure the baking tray has edges to prevent it from running off the edge.

Last year at this time I made Jerusalem Artichoke, Celeriac & Turnip Salad with Ginger-Orange Dressing.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

White Bean & Dried Tomato Dip

I keep trying with the white bean dips. I find an awful lot of them pretty dull, actually. Perhaps I have finally gotten enough other stuff in there that it can actually be tasty. At any rate, this was quite popular.

If you don't want to cook the beans, you should use 2 540 ml (19 ounce) tins.

about 3 cups dip
20 minutes prep time, not including cooking the beans

1 cup raw pea (navy) beans
1/3 cup parsley
1/2 cup dried tomatoes
2 cups grated celeriac
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon sunflower seed oil
the finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
the juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon salt (maybe)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon rubbed basil
1/4 teaspoon rubbed rosemary
1/2 teaspoon rubbed oregano
1/4 teaspoon rubbed thyme
1/4 cup stuffed olives (optional)

The beans need to be cooked the day before; put them in a pot and cover them with generous amounts of water. Bring them to a boil, then let them soak for several hours. Bring to a boil again, and then simmer until tender, about an hour.

Put the drained beans into a food processor. Add a good handful of parsley, washed and squeezed dry (and without any tough stems).

Put the tomatoes into a small pot with water to just cover, and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let them sit, covered, for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and grate the celeriac. Heat the oil in a medium skillet, and cook the celeriac gently until softened. Add the peeled, sliced garlic and cook for a minute or two more.

Add the drained tomatoes and the celeriac and garlic to the beans. Add the lemon juice and zest, and the seasonings, and the olives if you want them. Note; the amount of salt called for supposes home-cooked beans and no olives. If you use canned beans and/or olives, you should reduce the salt accordingly. If you use both you will not likely need to add any.

Last year at this time I made Pasta with Roasted Squash, Mushrooms, Onions & Dried Tomatoes.