I know that the title of this post is an oxymoron, but that’s how I feel about Pasta e Fagioli. 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. 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. 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. Not only did it feed Kevin and me for three nights, each evening the flavors became even more lovely and complex. 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. Simmer beans until they are tender–about 2 or 3 hours. When the beans are tender, discard bay leaf and smash garlic cloves with a spoon until they are incorporated into the bean mixture. At this point, the beans should have some extra liquid–about the consistency of a hearty stew.
3. Cook bacon and set aside, reserving bacon drippings.
4. Dice onions, celery, and carrots and sauté in bacon drippings for 10 minutes. Add basil and oregano and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add to bean mixture. At this point, add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Cook pasta in boiling water as directed on package. Drain pasta and add to bean mixture.
6. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, and finely-chopped bacon.