Minestra - a typical Genoese dish not to be confused with the Basque ‘menestra’ which is simply mixed boiled vegetables, or with Italian minestrone, a thick vegetable soup.
* 2 courgettes
* 1 aubergine
* 1 large piece pumpkin
* 1 onion
* 1 kohlrabi (colinabo)
* 2 turnips
* 1 head of garlic
* fresh basil
* olive oil
* fideua (spaghetti)
* kidney beans (previously soaked overnight)
* salt and pepper
* 1 UK pint (600ml) vegetable stock
1. In a large pot or pressure cooker, place the first six ingredients, roughly diced. Add a pint of vegetable stock and a tablespoon of oil. Bring to pressure and cook for 8 – 10 minutes, or simmer in a large pot for an hour. Cool, then purée the whole thing.
2. Place a large handful of basil leaves and about 6 cloves of garlic in a mortar and pound until roughly crushed and a gritty paste is achieved. Add to the pot, stir and season to taste.
3. Meanwhile, boil the beans separately and, when soft, add to purée mixture. (Dried kidney beans will cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea unless they have been boiled briskly (a slow cooker will not do - it can even make things worse) for at least twenty minutes to destroy the very indigestible phytohaemagglutinin that they contain - they will then need another 60-90 minutes slow simmer to be tender. Tinned kidney beans are quite safe and do not need pre-cooking as their preparation involves sufficient heat to destroy the toxin.)
4. Boil the pasta until al dente then add to mixture.
5. Serve with grated Parmesan or hard Edam sprinkled over it.