Pasta e fagioli
With as many variations as there are bean varieties, this Italian favorite is the perfect way to show off brothy beans in all their glory. Literally "pasta and beans," the only other ingredients you need are a handful of vegetables, good Parmesan, your best olive oil, and pancetta (optional). The addition of kale isn't traditional, but we addeded it to ours, because greens.
Which beans to use? Beloved Italian cooking authority Marcella Hazan preferred Cranberry (aka Borlotti), but Cannellini or Chickpeas are great too. Take 'em from dried to cooked with our guide!
- Serves: 4
- Time: 35 minutes (plus bean cooking)
- Cookware: large sauté pan or skillet, bean cooking vessel of your choice
- ⅓ lb dried beans
- Bean aromatics: onion, celery, carrot, rosemary
- 3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- ½ white or yellow onion, finely chopped
- ½ carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- ½ celery stalk, finely chopped
- 2-3 slices of pancetta, cut into small cubes (optional)
- ½ bunch lacinato kale, thick stems removed and sliced into ribbons (optional)
- ⅓ cup strained tomato purée (passata)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 175 g short tubular pasta, such as ditalini
- For serving: Parmigiano Reggiano, your best olive oil, crushed chili flakes
Prepare the beans: Cook beans and the aromatics according to our guide in the cooking vessel of your choice. Set beans aside in their broth.
Sauté the ingredients: Heat oil in sauté pan or skillet over medium-low heat. Gently saute onion until golden, then add carrot and celery and sauté 5 minutes longer. Add pancetta (if using) and fry until it releases its fat. Add kale (if using) and cook until wilted. Stir in tomatoes. Season with a generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Add the beans: Scoop out a ladleful of beans and mash with a little of their broth to make a paste, then stir into the vegetable/pancetta mixture with all the whole beans and enough of the bean broth to make a creamy soup. Simmer gently for 15 minutes.
Cook the pasta and assemble: Meanwhile, in another pot, cook pasta in salted boiling water until just al dente. Stir drained pasta into the vegetable-bean mixture. Add bean broth if necessary so that the consistency is like a creamy soup (and not a bean dip). Cover, take off the heat and let sit for five minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with lots of Parmigiano Reggiano.