Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What I Ate Tonight: A Take on Pasta E Fagioli

Now that Lent's officially started, one thing I've "given up" for Lent is meat. In doing this, I hoped to in part try out some recipes I've had for awhile and never tried, and also pick up some new recipes. One of the former category of recipes was something I found on Epicurious (I think) ages ago for a pasta e fagioli "soup" that was originally printed in Bon Appetit magazine in July, 1990. I've only ever had pasta e fagioli at places like Olive Garden, so I don't really know anything about traditional preparations, but the recipe as I found it seemed like it wouldn't be much of a soup or even a stew, but a sauce. Also, when I copied the recipe, I noted that some commenters on it said that they would add any of the following: 1 lb. of browned bulk sausage, and/or 16 oz. of hot water or broth. So the recipe I made is below, where it's an addition to the original recipe, I've noted it:

olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (my addition)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 16-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, chopped (reserve liquid)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
pinch of red pepper flakes (my addition)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed & drained
Salt and pepper
8 ounces ditalini pasta freshly cooked (I used ditalini, they recommended elbow macaroni)
16 ounces vegetable broth (my addition based on the commenter recommendation)
Grated Parmesan

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until the onions start to turn translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook 5 minutes. Add parsley, basil and oregano and simmer until tomatoes soften, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes with back of spoon. After about 10 minutes, I added half of the broth, as the tomato mixture was starting to look like it needed liquid to simmer some more. Once the tomatoes are soft (about 15 minutes of simmering), add reserved tomato liquid, broth, and beans and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Place pasta in bowl. Toss with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Pour sauce over and toss thoroughly. Serve, passing Parmesan separately.

This turned out really tasty, if not quite as "soupy" as I expected. I think even 8 ounces of noodles is too much--next time I make this, I'm going to use only 4 ounces. It definitely would have been tasty with some bulk hot Italian sausage, or vegetarian substitute, but as I had no vegetarian sausage substitute on hand, I did without. I think it may have also benefited from a smidge more tomato, either via some tomato sauce added to the simmer, or a few extra whole peeled tomatoes (and their juices).

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