Categories
Savories

Pasta e Fagioli

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

Ingredients

  • 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
  • parmesan

Step-by-step

  • 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!
Categories
Savories

Bean + Herb Soup with So Much Garlic

It’s been a rough couple weeks y’all. But a comforting bowl of warm soup goes a long way towards soothing most ailments, physical and emotional. I think my Italian peasant foremothers would approve of this simple dish.

I’m trying to work my way through the little half-finished jars of condiments and fermentation experiments in my fridge. When I pickle veggies with garlic cloves (which is most of the time), I like to save all the garlic covered in brine. It’s like a much better version of pre-peeled garlic. I used one whole jar of pickled garlic cloves for this soup (about 30 cloves). If that sounds scary to you, feel free to reduce. But know that the slow boil mellows out the garlic flavor significantly. Raw garlic cloves are totally fine if you don’t have any pickled ones handy.

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 8-12 cups of stock (or salted water with a generous pour of white wine)
  • 1-2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in plenty of water for 12-24 hours
  • 20-30 peeled garlic cloves (if you got pickled, that’s great!)
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • 3-4 celery stalks, chopped (throw is a carrot or two if you want)
  • 2 big pinches of fennel seed
  • 1 big pinch red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • about 1 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley and basil (add a bit of rosemary, oregano, and/or sage if desired)
  • optional: freshly grated parmesan

Step-by-step

  • In a pot over medium heat, add one or two healthy glugs of olive oil. Saute onions and celery for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and golden. 
  • Add fennel seed, red pepper flakes, and garlic cloves and saute for another minute or two. 
  • Drain chickpeas (which have been soaking in water on the counter overnight), rinse, and add to pot along with stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow contents to gently simmer for one or two hours. If liquid is evaporating too fast, add in more water and turn down the heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Perhaps add honey, vinegar, or miso, if that’s what it needs. The soup is ready when chickpeas and garlic are soft and the flavor is deep and rich.
  • Right before serving, stir in herbs. Grate parmesan on top. Serve with crusty bread if possible.