Pasta e Fagioli

Earlier this week I asked my Facebook friends [a page you all should stop by and "like"!!] what their favorite dinner was growing up. When I was growing up I loved eating Taco’s for dinner. The first person to answer was my friend Kathy and she told me her favorite dinner growing up was Pasta Fagioli. I should mention that I told the first person who responded that I would make their dish and blog about it this week. After Kathy answered, I got to work. I realized immediately that Pasta e Fagioli was going to be a tough dish for me. Not because I do not like pasta, but because I do not like beans. And, if you did not already know, Pasta e Fagioli literally translates to Pasta and Beans. This meal was sure to be killer for me.

I considered making it my own; I mean, I have been changing recipes so that I like them better for months and I was positive I could do the same with this dish. Initially I thought I would simply omit the beans. That would make me happy. Then I thought about what I was really making and the actual meaning of the dish and realized that I could not omit the beans lest I change Kathy’s favorite dish. So I kept the beans.

The flavor of this meal is out of this world, seriously. Because the Pancetta is added to the mix in the second step, its flavor seeps into every pasta noodle, the chicken broth and everything else.

Here is what you will need:

  • Rosemary, 1 fresh sprig or a ½ teaspoon of dried
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Cheesecloth
  • 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 to 5 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 or 7 cups chicken broth [if you want to make less, then reduce by a cup or two, but remember to reduce the noodles, too!!]
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni [if you want to make less, then reduce by a cup and reduce the amount of broth, too!!]
  • Black Pepper
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  • Wrap the rosemary and bay leaves in a piece of cheesecloth and secure with kitchen twine
  • Heat olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat
  • Add the onion, garlic and pancetta and sauté until the onion is tender, about 8 minutes
  • Add the broth, beans and sachet of herbs
  • Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, an additional 10 minutes
  • Discard the sachet
  • Remove one cup of the bean mixture and let cool
  • While bean mixture is cooling, add the macaroni and boil with the lid on until it is tender, about 8 or 9 minutes
  • While the macaroni is cooking, puree the bean mixture

  • Return the puree to the remaining soup and stir well
  • Season the soup with pepper, red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese

If I make this again there are a couple of things I would change: First, I would probably add a cup or two of crushed tomatoes because I think it would add a little acidic taste to the pancetta and broth. Second, I would likely not puree that one cup of the bean mixture. For somebody like me, who does not like beans, having the consistency of the bean mixture throughout the dish was less than appealing. With that being said, Nick LOVED it. The lesson to take from this: make it how you like it. If you like beans then follow the recipe above and you will be pleasantly surprised. I am finicky.

Aside from these couple of things, I really enjoyed this meal. It was much better than I ever anticipated, which is what Kathy told me would happen. I give all of the credit to her for turning me on to this dish.

Tomorrow I have a very, very special surprise coming to everybody so it will be worth your time to check back! Seriously, it is the start of something decadent and fun!!!

Until Next Time,

Keep Taking Suggestions from Friends!!