‘…his wife bent over him with a great deep plate of beans and pasta cloudy with a steam of garlic and brown bean sauce. Zi’ Pasquale picked up a spoon as he would a shovel, scooped in, and with an expert laborer’s flip the mound of beans and pasta disappeared behind that enormous mustached mouth…’
Pasta fazool! Little gives me as much pleasure as the term pasta fazool. Second maybe only to gabagool (aka capocollo). My friend Carmine told me a story once about the small village in central Italy his parents came from. He went for a visit around the time someone in the village had a new baby. A huge party ensued, and the mayor of the town made an enormous batch of pasta fazool. That says it all.
This recipe is interesting because it can vary hugely in time and effort depending on some key prep choices. It’s always delicious, but for the best results make the chicken bouillon I made for the white soup recipe. And cook the beans from dry. You can, of course, use canned beans and canned chicken stock. This will result in a much quicker dish, but it won’t quite have the same depth of flavor.
Trust me – make a batch of chicken bouillon, use what you need and freeze the rest so you always have a superior base for your sauces and soups.
PASTA E FAGIOLI (or pasta fazool)
- 400 g cooked borlotti beans
- 300 g bacon
- 200 g carrots
- 260 g onion
- 250 g canned tomato
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 100 g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated plus add the rind
- 150 g ditalini
- 3 cups chicken bouillon
- 2 cups bean cuisson (cooking liquid)
- 2 cups water
Cut onions and carrots into small dice.
Cut bacon into lardons and render.
Once bacon has rendered, add onions, carrot, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves* to the pan and sauté.
While the bacon and veg are cooking, puree half of your borlotti beans with the cuisson.
When the veg is tender, add the beans and cook for just 1 min.
Add canned tomato, bean puree, grated Parmesan, Parmesan rind and herbs. Cook for 5 mins.
Add chicken bouillon, bean cuisson and water and bring to gentle boil. Cook 20 mins.
Add ditalini. Cook additional 7 mins or until ditalini is tender.
*Make sure when ever using fresh herbs you activate the herbs. For a bay leaf give it smack. For rosemary and thyme give them a gentle rub.
For dried beans
- 400 g borlotti beans
- 1 carrot
- 1/2 onion
- 1 bay leaf
- 100 g bacon trim
- 6 L water
Soak the borlotti beans in at least 6L of water for two days.
Slowly simmer beans in the soaking liquid with the peeled carrot, onion, bacon and bay leaf until fully cooked.
Cool down and store in cooking liquid (otherwise known as cuisson).