Tuesday, October 7, 2008

when the stars make you drool...

...just like "pasta fazool", that's Amore. yes, indeed it is.

what's not to love about this dish? it's cheap, healthy, hearty and easy to make. for about $12 you can feed off of this recipe for a week. shit, you could even freeze some and really stretch it out.*

pasta e fagioli (pasta & beans) is a traditional italian peasant dish with as many different recipes as there are regions in italy. my recipe is a souped-up (ha!) version of the one my mother has been making for many moons.

Pasta e Fagioli
yiels 8-12 cups

1/2 - 1 # ditalini pasta (use as much or as little pasta to suit your taste)

oilive oil as needed
1 yellow onion, small dice
1 bulb of fennel, small dice
1 carrot, small dice
2 stalks of celery, small dice
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (6 oz) tin of tomato paste
1 (26 oz) carton of Pomi chopped tomatoes
1 qt chicken stock
1 cup reserved bean liquid
1 cup water
1 (15 oz) can of white cannelini beans (liquid reserved)
1 (15 oz) can of red kidney beans (liquid reserved)
salt to taste

1/2 red onion, minced
chopped parsely to garnish
your favorite grated cheese
a crusty loaf of fresh bread

1. get your pasta water ready; fill a large pot with water, salt it liberally and bring up to temp. you want this water boiling by step 4.

2. heat 3 TBLS of olive oil in a heavy-bottom pot or dutch oven. toss in the onion, carrot, celery and fennel - hit them with some salt. saute over medium-high heat until well caramelized. - about 8-10 minutes

3. once the veggies have some nice color add the tomato paste.**

continue to cook until the mixture is caramelized proper; the darker, the better - BUT DON'T BURN IT!

dampen with water if it gets too dry.

4. add the stock, chopped tomatoes, water and the liquid reserved from the beans. make sure to scape up all the little brown bits (fond) on the bottom of the pan. Add the beans, bring to a boil, return to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes so the flavors mingle. taste & season.


5. (optional) i like to add some depth and body to this dish by pureeing about 1 cup of the bean mixture and returning it to pot. not entirely necessary, but it thickens the dish up some and adds layers of flavor. taste & season .

6. cook the pasta until just al dente, drain in a large colander and toss with some olive oil to keep them from sticking together. add pasta to the beans in the amount that best suits your taste. i usually end up using 1/2- 3/4 of a pound.

7. serve in warmed bowls with a slice of bread, freshly grated cheese, chopped parsley, a swirl of olive oil, and the minced red onion. the red onion really ties this dish together, do the right thing and put about a tablespoon in everyone's bowl.

*NOTE: if you decide to freeze your pasta e fagioli, i recommend freezing only the bean-soup mixture and adding freshly cooked pasta prior to serving.

NOTE: a lot of people assume that tomato paste is just used to thicken a sauce, however, the true value of tomato paste is its ability to add depth and color to a dish. by adding the paste to the aromatics in step 3 you can really intensify its flavor and add crazy layers to your dish.

-- layer your flavor

© 2008 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" - http://missioninsatiable.blogspot.com/