tortellini with rapini, cannellini beans, and pancetta

8 Jan


This is it. This is what it’s like to be 35. Well, 35 1/2 technically. (Which, by the way, not ONE single person wished me a happy half-birthday on December 22, as if all of you were actually too busy to remember. Jerkholes.) On December 26, I had to make a fun little visit to my local Instacare. I won’t go into too many details, but let’s just say that I thought I was going to die, or that my ear was going to implode, or both in either order. Don’t fret – I’m going to make it and my ear has shrunk back to its normal size. But, this is where it gets serious…this is where I had to stare myself down and say, “This is it. This is what people always talk about re: getting older, slower metabolism, overdoing it at the holidays, and so on.” You know…old timey talk. I was one of those ladies who would’ve been on a Hoda & Kathie Lee segment. I wasn’t 27 anymore and able to stuff my face silly with wine, chocolate, and more wine.

Here’s what happened. Here’s where I got my bitch slap. At Instacare, they took my weight. I took off my coat and shoes because that extra 5 ounces was going to make or break me (we are a stupid people). I looked down at the scale and thought “Oh my God, I’m dying, I’m become frail, I’ve got osteoporosis, ohwaitno!, those numbers are in Kg.” The nurse said, “Do you want to see what that is in pounds?” I was most likely still drunk from the night before and couldn’t just multiple by 2.2. I don’t know why I said “Yes, please, bring it,” but when that business quickly converted to pounds, it was then I heard all those old timey voices in my head.

I had totally, completely overdone it this holiday season and I still had 5 more days to go until New Year’s Day. The numbers on the scale and my preference towards leggings versus jeans were two significant signs. Oh and that I’m now officially closer to 40 than 30. Jesus.

On January 2 I started a 5-day cleanse which meant no alcohol (gasp!), no caffeine (balls!), no sugar (meh.), no carbs (are you effing kidding me?). It surprisingly wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but there were a couple of days I woke up dizzy and headachey. Withdrawals? Probably. And it certainly doesn’t help that one morning Mr. Poetic Appetite brought over a fresh-from-the-oven handmade loaf of spelt bread he slaved over the Tartine baking cookbook to bake. After five days, I lost 5 pounds, most likely all in wine weight. I’ll take it. It definitely made me realize how much food I was shoving in my face. It’s nice to start off the year a bit more conscientious. I’m sure what I omitted in carbs and wine, I made up for in cursing.

I’ve never eaten so much Bok Choy consecutively either.

On day three, I was buying my 5th bunch of bok choy from the grocery store and a woman stopped me to ask how to prepare “this bok choy thing?” This was my time to pull a Marguerite Henderson. She loves this shit. Loooooves it when people stop her and ask her what’s in her cart and how to make such and such. And for that reason, I cannot go to Costco with her. It’s torturous.

So here, I’ll tell you what I told her. So easy, 5 minutes.

sautéed bok choy

8 cups chopped bok choy (about one bunch), or two bunches of the baby bok choy chopped (so cute, by the way)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
freshly cracked pepper

Wash and chop your bok choy. In a saute pan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add your ginger and garlic and saute until almost golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Add bok choy and soy sauce. Saute until the green ends are slightly wilted and white parts are tender. Top with cracked pepper. You don’t need to add salt because of the soy sauce.

Voila! And my soapbox was over.


I felt so great about not having anything naughty to drink or eat, I decided last night, when the girls got home from school, to make a batch of Muddy Buddies, or Puppy Chow as we called it in Omaha. Seems rational, right? Oh, right, I also added peanut M&Ms to the batch. I’m a glutton.


Let’s get back on the right track though. The kids are back in school (you could almost hear the chorus of mothers’ and fathers’ subconsciously singing “Hallelujah” as the doors to school opened) and routines are back. I know I’ve been negligent in making my regular weekly menus the last, oh…7 weeks, but it’s time to get serious.

Here’s an insanely easy, healthy, colorful recipe for a cold, snowy weeknight dinner.

I spy a wee tot helping me by not helping me.

I spy a wee tot helping me by not helping me.

tortellini with rapini and beans  (Small Plates Appetizers as Meals, page 92)

1/4 pound pancetta, chopped (If you don’t have pancetta, use bacon. If you don’t have either, you can use 1/4 pound Italian sausage and crumble as you brown)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
2 bunches rapini (broccoli rabe), ends trimmed and coarsely chopped
1 cup water
2 cans (15 ounces each) small white beans, drained (cannellini, garbanzo, etc.)
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 pound cheese tortellini, cooked al dente and drained
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
cracked black pepper

*Rapini is Italian broccoli, which has a bitter, but distinct flavor. If not available, you can use 2 bunches broccolini or broccoli florets. If you don’t see any rapini, don’t be shy to ask your produce person if they have any. Today, they didn’t have any on display, so I asked and the cute little guy and said he just got some in that morning. He ran to the back, and two minutes later, I picked two fresh bunches from a crisp, freshly opened box. Little things like this are so triumphant. And then, as I was paying,  I realized I left my wallet at home. It’s all about balance.

Also, a lot of these ingredients can be purchased on your big Costco run. Such as, pancetta or bacon, olive oil, onions, garlic, white beans, tortellini, chicken broth, and Romano cheese. If you have all of these on-hand, you really just need to run to the store to buy tomatoes and rapini.

In a large saute pan, brown pancetta in oil. Add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, rapine, and water. Cover and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the white beans and tomatoes. Cook for another 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Add the cooked tortellini and broth; stir until heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve with Romano cheese and pepper on top.

NOTE: When reheating leftovers, you will want to add a bit more chicken or vegetable broth.






One Response to “tortellini with rapini, cannellini beans, and pancetta”

  1. Megan Longo January 8, 2014 at 2:54 pm #


    Sent from my iPhone


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