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December 2, 2007

Bay leaves (Recipe: pasta e fagiole)

Bayleaves1

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Comments

Hi Lydia,
I'm glad to learn that dried bay leaves are more flavoursome since I can hardly find fresh ones. Funny, I just remembered that my mom always used fresh ones in her cooking. I agree with you that the tatse of bay leaf is not distinctive enough that we can pick it out straight away in a dish, but I can certainly taste that something is not quite right when I left it out.

Nora

My mom threw bay leaves into nearly every sauce and soup she made, so I know exactly the, "Hmmm, something's missing," that you're talking about. I particularly like to use them with other herbs, especially oregano. The soup sounds yummy!

My two favorite food groups (beans and pasta) in one well flavored dish. Heaven!!!

Aii, next grace over soup, I may just giggle a bit as I imagine a laurel wreath splashing into the soup! This is a lovely post, Lydia!

That photo could be my jar of bay leaves, same jar and everything! I agree, they do add a great depth of flavor. Saving this recipe, it sounds great!

"Somethings missing" and especially in a soup, it is so often the bay. Lydia I started reading this and had to get my son's flour canisters our, wash them and put some bay in each lid. That old trick I learned on the boat to keep those lovely critters out of the flour. We may love the bay but for some reason the flour critters don't which suits me just fine.
Soup looks excellent.

Since I am the proud owner of a laurel tree the size of a small house I am using them a lot more - both fresh and dried. They do add a lot of flavor and are good used in quantity in some dishes - particularly with pork.
Love pasta i fagioli...

Yep, another staple in my pantry too. I put bay leaves in most anything that needs to stew. We called it leaves of laurel in the Philippines and when I came to the US , I had a problem finding it only to realize it was called bay leaf.

Nora, I think the key is to find dried ones that are not too too old -- which means buying from somewhere that has a lot of turnover. I've learned this the hard way, by getting some really brittle and flavorless bay leaves. Now I buy from Penzeys.com.

Jennifer, my mom did the same thing, but I'm sure she didn't know why she was adding those bay leaves!

Pauline, I'm with you -- this soup can be so wonderful -- thick and comforting.

Alanna, who deserves a laurel wreath more than the Veggie Queen???!

Kalyn, now I know a bit more about what your pantry looks like. I've had my bay leaves in this same jar for many years.

MyKitchen, I knew this about bay leaves and flour bugs, but I've never tried it. Do the leaves impart an aroma to the flour?

Katie, I'm green with envy. Do you dry the bay leaves in winter? Our climate isn't right for growing laurel, except in pots that you bring inside for the winter, so I've never tried it.

Veron, I remember reading a cookbook many years ago that called for laurel leaves. I went to several markets asking for them, and nobody had any idea what I was talking about!

I too adore bay leaves. I find that the dried package is not very good, somehow the fragrance is lost. I normally got the whole banch of fresh bay leaves and hang out to dry. The aroma is really better :)

Here we say that the cook takes the portion with the bay leaf in it. I don´t know if that´s supposed to be a privilege or not, but it´s sweet.

I will have to try the "with" and "without" experiment. You are right - I probably can't identify the elusive flavor of a bay leaf on my own. That's a great idea!

Most people here use bay leaves when cooking beans, Lydia - I don't use it this way and it's a good thing to learn new ways of using it!

I love cannellini beans and this recipe. I'd love to have a laurel tree. ;-)

Paz

Anh, you are so lucky to have access to fresh bay leaves, so you can pick them as they're drying

Lobstersquad, I think it's a privilege! In our house we call it the "lucky bay leaf", if you get the bay leaf in your portion. Of course, if I weren't so lazy, I'd pull out the bay leaves before serving the dish -- but I never do that!

TW, even doing the experiment, I still can't really identify the flavor -- but I do know when it's missing, and I find that weird and wonderful.

Patricia, bay and beans are one of my standard combinations, too, especially in bean soups.

Paz, me too. I wish we lived in a better climate for gardening....

We are never without some of these leaves in the pantry, you are so right, they do add that special something that would otherwise leave us the poorer for not using them. Anchovies act similarly in simple tomato sauces for pasta, you can't taste them, but you can taste the difference.

I always found bay leaves so interesting - they don't appear to be as firm as they are! The other day my friend actually found a bay leaf in her chicken soup from a restaurant. Thanks for this post!

Neil, you're right about anchovies -- they add that same kind of mysterious background flavor.

Hillary, seems I'm not the only lazy cook who doesn't remove the bay leaves!

I was going to make a comment about the perfect combination you've got here, but everything has been said.

I am - once again - late to the table.

But, this is one of those recipes I could make tonight without leaving the house to shop for ingredients - my favorite kind.

Mimi, pantry recipes are my favorite kind, too. And anything that combines beans and pasta makes me happy.

My Italian grandmother used to throw a bay leaf in the darnedest places...and it always added a special kick to the dish. Great advice :)

Sognatrice, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. You were so lucky to have an Italian grandmother -- I always wanted one, because all of my Italian friends seems to have such a great cooking tradition in their families.

Is there anything I can do when too many bay leaves are used in tomato sauce ? how can I tone down the flavor ?

Cynthia, I've been trying to find a scientific answer for you, but haven't yet. My assumption is that you're using fresh bay leaves, or California bay, which has a much stronger flavor than the dried Mediterranean leaves. Instinctively I'd probably bump up all of the other flavors to the same level, to mask the strong bay flavor.

Pantry readers, I'll throw this question open to you. Any ideas?

my husband made a gallon of spaghetti sauce and it tastes like weird meat and tomato candy. too many bay leaves\?? |He added about 8

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