Pasta e Fagioli

I apologize for seeming to be obsessed with beans (fagioli) lately, but it’s winter, and beans make for a hearty meal. I don’t really think about beans as much in the summer. It’s in winter that we want our meals to have a bit more substance and earthiness. And beans do the trick. Besides, who cares about a little bloat in wintertime? You can cover it up better than in the summer, when clothes are skimpier and more is exposed. So please throw caution to the wind, and enjoy another delicious meal made with beans.

Pasta e fagioli (macaroni and beans) was a popular Friday night meatless (if were Catholic…before they changed this rule) meal in my house, growing up. However, it was not a favorite of mine then. My mother often used ceci (Chickpeas) as an alternative in this dish, and then I really wasn’t happy. I think you know by now, that there was not much I didn’t like as a child, but I was never happy to see this dish cooking in the kitchen. It was a favorite of my brother’s, so if you grew up in an Italian family, you know that we had this often. Perhaps beans are an acquired taste that we develop as we get older. Or perhaps, my husband’s recipe for pasta e fagioli is just infinitely better. I could easily make this a Friday night ritual. It is just so good!

RECIPE

1 pound spaghetti, broken into 1 to 2 inch pieces, or ditalini
4 cloves garlic, thickly sliced…use more if you like
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 cans of cannolini beans or 1 pound dried, soaked and cooked
1/2 cup left-over red sauce or 5 to 6 Italian plum canned tomatoes, squished, of course.
2 tsp. oregano
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste, if you like.
freshly grated Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese

Put a large pot of salted, water on the stove and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile saute garlic in the olive oil, being careful not to brown it. This is where you would also add the red pepper flakes, if you are using them. Add the sauce or tomatoes, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Now add the beans and oregano and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Before draining the pasta, take out 1 cup of the pasta water and add to the beans.
**Note….it wouldn’t be my kitchen, if my husband ad I were not arguing over a recipe. Here is a case in point. He likes his pasta e fagioli “soupy” and I like mine on the dry side. So if you would like it “soupy”, add another cup (or more) of the pasta water. You can also put some aside now for later use, if needed.

Drain pasta and combine with the bean mixture and stir on low heat for a minute or two. This is a good time to add more pasta water if you feel it needs it.

Serve with freshly grated cheese.

PS I’ll be posting MY recipe for pasta e fagioli soon….before summer!

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