Monday, November 16, 2015

Pasta Fagiole

I grew up in a pretty stereotypical post-war town,  close to NYC.  The 60s were just beginning to see some racial and religious integration.  A couple of moves later, I found myself in college and in a much more diverse atmosphere - it was an education!  I think the greatest part of my education there was exposure to different thoughts, ideas, and cultures.  And of course, being in a large city (Boston), meant exposure to all the different neighborhoods and various cuisines.  I guess I'm truly a peasant at heart, though, because what always pulls me in is good simple home-style cooking.  This recipe may not be grandma's hours-on-the-stove version, but it's good, simple, and number one - FAST!

Following is a slightly more labor-intensive one I've made that I really like.  An immersion blender is a life-saver on this one!

Fasta-Pasta Fagiole

"pasta faZHUL" or, as my friends from Southie called it "fazh"

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 large celery stalk, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage or 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon salt + more to taste
2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/4 pound (about 1 cup) small pasta like shells, elbows, or ditalini
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup (8 ounces) tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Black pepper, for serving (optional)
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

note:  I like to throw some cooked, chopped spinach into this, too.  I do cook it separately and add it in a dollop when serving, topped by the parm.  (I just don't like the "color" when I cook the spinach in with the broth.  And I have a thing about large cooked leaves of anything.  It has to be CHOPPED!! - Being picky, I know!)

Procedure:Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the onion, celery, carrots. garlic, sage, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook for 10 minutes

Increase the heat to medium and add the broth

Bring to a simmer and stir in the pasta. 

Cover the pot and cook for 8-10 minutes until the pasta is tender—timing will vary based on the type of pasta you're using. (Stir now and then so pasta doesn't stick to bottom of pan)

Stir in the cannellini beans,  tomatoes and parsley and cook for a few minutes more, just until the beans are warmed through.

Taste to add more salt if needed and black pepper if desired.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

The pasta will continue to absorb liquid so this soup is beast eaten fresh. You CAN cook the pasta separately if you'd like and then add it to each serving just before serving, also.

If you have a "gotta have meat in it" person in your house, some cooked Italian sausage, either crumbled or in slices, and added at the end would round this out.

Not-So-Fasta Pasta Fagiole

Ingredients:2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
4 ounces pancetta, diced
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 medium ribs celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (14.5 ounce) cans cannellini beans or chickpeas (or combination), rinsed and drained
1/4 cup dried lentils, rinsed (preferably French green lentils, but any green or brown lentils are fine)
1 cup diced or chopped canned tomatoes, with their juices
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
3/4 cup dried pasta, such as elbow macaroni or ditalini (whole wheat is fine)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving

Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. 

Add the pancetta and cook about 5 minutes.  (melting the fat out) Stir occasionally.

Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. 

Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

Add the wine and cook until it has nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. 

Add the broth, salt, pepper, beans, lentils, diced tomatoes, bay leaves and rosemary. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are just tender, 15-30 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer 1 cup of the bean mixture to a heat-safe dish and blend until smooth.

Add the dried pasta to the pot and stir.  Cook until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, anywhere from 8-12 minutes depending on the type of pasta you used. 

Discard the bay leaves.

Stir the reserved puréed bean mixture into the soup and cook briefly until soup is heated through.

Remove the soup from heat and stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Add more broth is the soup is too thick. Season with S/P. 

Ladle the soup into bowls. Drizzle each portion with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with more cheese, if desired.

The pasta and lentils will continue to absorb liquid so this soup is beast eaten fresh. You CAN cook the pasta separately if you'd like and then add it to each serving just before serving, also.

This week's recipe detective was Kate Richardson:

No comments:

Post a Comment