My first memory of pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans in Italian) is from Flavors of Italy, a run of the mill Italian-American restaurant my family frequented during my early childhood in Coral Springs, Fla. If memory serves, there was a waterfall in the restaurant, which is very exciting. The pasta e fagioli less so. The basic soup of pasta, cannellini beans, and veggies came automatically before any entree, like miso soup does at many Japanese restaurants. I filed it away as something boring and not worth ordering.
My next memory of pasta and beans came during our first season at Ground Floor Farm, when Farmer Mike would cook staff lunches of pasta with tomato sauce, throwing in a can of Costco black beans to satiate the famished farm crew. I started out skeptical, but was soon convinced of the merits of putting beans in pasta. Now I do it all the time, particularly when I need something quick but hearty. Here’s an easily adaptable pasta e fagioli you can have on the table in 15 or 20 minutes.
Makes:1 hungry person
- 1 cup uncooked pasta
- 1 cup cooked white beans of choice (canned or cooked from dry)
- a few cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 bunch greens of choice, chopped (sorrel, arugula, or callaloo are nice)
- a sprig or two of rosemary
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon butter
- olive oil
- crushed red pepper
- fennel seed
- vinegar of choice
- Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente.
- While pasta is cooking, add a glug or two of olive oil to a pan along with garlic. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat, until garlic is fragrant. Add rosemary, a four-fingered pinch of red pepper, and another pinch of fennel seed, and let sizzle for 30 seconds. Add beans and breadcrumbs. Stir.
- Before draining the pasta, add about 1/3 cup of pasta water to beans and turn heat to high. Add drained pasta, butter, and a splash of vinegar to pan. Stir constantly until the contents have absorbed all of the water.
- Stir in greens and grated parmesan. Enjoy!