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How to Make Delicious Pasta e Fagioli

Copyright 2010, Bill Yovino

Copyright 2010, Bill Yovino

For many people of Italian descent, pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans) is a comfort food that brings back pleasant memories of childhood and family. This is not a Sunday dish, served in the dining room, but a mid-week, eat-in-the-kitchen peasant meal. Delicious, nourishing, and inexpensive, this dinner can be made in about 30 minutes using ingredients you can keep on-hand in your pantry.

There are many recipes for pasta e fagioli and the only common denominator is that they all include some kind of pasta and some kind of beans. Many people make it as a soup, but my recipe is for a pasta dish. There is much debate within my own family about the rest of the ingredients, but I think that my take on this is closer to the classic recipe. (Be cool cousin Theresa).

Copyright 2010, Bill Yovino

Copyright 2010, Bill Yovino

The Ingredients

1 box Ditalini pasta
1 can (28 oz) whole Italian tomatoes
1 can (19 oz) Cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
1 large Onion - diced
4 cloves Garlic - finely diced
3 tablespoons fresh chopped Parsley or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano
Fresh ground black Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Olive Oil

A large pot of boiling, salted water for the pasta
Romano cheese for serving


Cooking

Set the pot of water on the stove on high heat. When the pasta water is boiling, add a tablespoon of salt to the water along with the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box. Drain the pasta and put it into a large serving bowl.

Note: If you start heating the water for the pasta after you chop the onions, the pasta and the sauce will be ready at the same time. Don't be fooled by the size of the pasta box. This makes a lot of pasta fagioli.


Onions and garlic.

Onions and garlic.

Careful with the Onions and Garlic

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the onions and garlic. After a minute or two, turn the heat down very low. Cook the onions, stirring frequently until they're translucent and very tender.

You don't want to brown the onions or they will give the sauce a bitter taste. When they start to stick to the pan, add the can of tomatoes with the juice. Cut the tomatoes into bite-size pieces in the pan with a knife and fork and then mash them with the fork.

Add the parsley, oregano, and lots of fresh ground pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the pasta is done.

Add the can of canellini beans to the sauce with the liquid and stir lightly to heat through.

Pour the sauce over the cooked and drained pasta and toss to coat. Serve with grated cheese and crusty Italian bread.

Don't brown the onions. They're finished when they look like this.

Don't brown the onions. They're finished when they look like this.

Variations

  • Add red pepper flakes or chopped cherry peppers to kick it up a bit.
  • Instead of olive oil, render bacon or pancetta until crisp. Set the meat aside. Remove and discard all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Use that instead of the olive oil. Top each serving with the crumbled meat.
  • Use fresh homegrown tomatoes. Just remember that you'll need to adjust the salt.
  • Add chicken stock to make it a soup. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.
Classic Pasta e Fagioli. Copyright 2010, Bill Yovino

Classic Pasta e Fagioli. Copyright 2010, Bill Yovino

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Comments

RTalloni on May 03, 2013:

It's simmering and smells wonderful! We have a cool rainy night and same weekend ahead of us… viva pasta fagiloi!

Bill Yovino (author) on May 03, 2013:

I usually have all the ingredients on hand just in case of a Pasta Fagioli emergency.

RTalloni on May 03, 2013:

Oh yes! I'm so glad I have the ingredients for this weekend. Thanks for the recipe with great tips!

Bill Yovino (author) on April 21, 2013:

Thanks Eurozulu. I sometimes add hot cherry peppers to "kick it up a notch", as Emeril would say.

bradley brown from Harrow Middlesex on April 21, 2013:

We love Pasta e Fagioli, well written easy to follow, i will normally add chili to give it a bit of a kick ! Just added to Pinterest as well.

Bill Yovino (author) on June 04, 2011:

Hi Francesa27 and thanks for the compliment. I look forward to seeing your recipe for White Pasta Fagioli. I've never had that and I would like to try it. Bill

Francesca27 from Hub Page on June 04, 2011:

Well written hub! I will be posting a recipe for White Pasta Fagioli soon. For now I will make your recipe, never made the red one. Francesca27

Bill Yovino (author) on May 22, 2010:

Borge - thanks for the comment. This is one of those comfort foods that always hits the spot. If you try it, remember, don't overcook the onions!

borge_009 from Philippines on May 21, 2010:

Wow thanks for this recipe. I felt hungry reading this hub. I love pasta dishes

Bill Yovino (author) on May 20, 2010:

I'm told that my grandmother sometimes added baby peas but I've never tried that. I do try to use lots of fresh parsley if I have it.

askjanbrass from St. Louis, MO on May 20, 2010:

I love making Pasta Fagioli, but usually I include some sort of leafy green in my recipe. Generally I use spinach. Either way, it's a delicious dish.