I know that the title of this post is an oxymoron, but that’s how I feel about Pasta e Fagioli. Â It’s a simple, yet hearty dish, but with a few additions, its the type of meal that looks beautiful and modern, while satisfying almost everyone around the table. Â Most of the recipes I saw in my research were for a soup, but not the one from The Vintage Epicure, which is the base recipe I used for my version. Â You’ll see that I couldn’t resist putting bacon in mine, but one could easily leave it out and use olive oil without losing much flavor.
This dish turned out to be a powerhouse. Â Not only did it feed Kevin and me for three nights, each evening the flavors became even more lovely and complex. Â We both decided that this recipe will definitely become a staple in our house.
Pasta e Fagioli
(very loosely adapted from The Vegetarian Epicure) serves 6
1.5 cups dried beans (I used a mixture of beans that included kidney, black, and navy beans as well as some lentils)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 large carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 slices bacon, drippings reserved
1 tsp. oregano and basil, chopped
1 medium can diced tomatoes
1 lb. elbow macaroni (or whatever pasta you’d like!)
2 tbsp. parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
1. Combine beans with 6 cups of water and soak overnight.
2. The next day, pour beans and liquid into a dutch oven along with 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 cup olive oil, bay leaves, and garlic cloves. Â Simmer beans until they are tender–about 2 or 3 hours. Â When the beans are tender, discard bay leaf and smash garlic cloves with a spoon until they are incorporated into the bean mixture. Â At this point, the beans should have some extra liquid–about the consistency of a hearty stew.
3. Â Cook bacon and set aside, reserving bacon drippings.
4. Dice onions, celery, and carrots andÂ sautÃ©Â in bacon drippings for 10 minutes. Â Add basil and oregano and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Â Add to bean mixture. Â At this point, add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Cook pasta in boiling water as directed on package. Â Drain pasta and add to bean mixture.
6. Serve with gratedÂ ParmesanÂ cheese, chopped parsley, and finely-chopped bacon.