Pasta e fagioli (pasta with beans)

This is one of my husband’s favourite recipes. I learned to cook this dish by watching my mother in law and obviously by sampling the finished product myself. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly by using stock, my mother in law would just use water and allow the flavours from the veg to create their own stock.

I always cook a bit extra and freeze some for another day. This is a great winter warmer recipe, very much comfort food.

Serves 4 – 6 (depending on whether you’re serving primi piatti or a main course)

  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped into bean sized pieces
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of dried beans (soaked overnight) or a can of beans, use cannellini or barlotti
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 2 – 4 chopped tomatoes (depending on size, I used small ones), use a can of chopped tomatoes if you prefer but this will make it a more “tomatoey” flavour (not a bad thing 😉
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1l chicken or veg stock
  • 1 bay leaf (dry or fresh)
  • 100g of ditali pasta
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil to serve
  • 65g pancetta (optional)
  • Dried chilli flakes to taste (optional)
  • Parmesan to serve (optional)

  1. In a heavy based casserole dish, add the beans and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to simmer gently for 30 mins (if using canned beans) and 1.5 – 2 hours (if using dried).  Don’t add salt to the water because it will make the skins tough. Keep an eye on them and add more water if necessary
  2. Remove half of the beans and purée the rest then mix together with the whole beans in a separate dish. I added about 100ml of boiling water to loosen the mixture
  3. In the same casserole dish (wiped clean of the beans) , add the oil, onion, garlic, carrot, celery and garlic, fry gently until the onion is translucent, about 5/6 minutes. Add the tomato purée, stir amongst the veg and warm through. If you are using pancetta, fry this first until lightly golden brown then add the veg etc.
  4. Add the beans, stock, tomatoes, stock, bay leaf and chilli flakes (if using) and bring to the boil for a few minutes
  5. If you are saving some to freeze take this out now. When you want to eat it again, defrost it, bring to the boil and then follow the steps below (add more water if necessary)
  6. Add the pasta and boil for 7 – 9 minutes, again, add more water if necessary in order for the pasta to cook
  7. Remove from the heat and rest for 20 – 30 minutes with the lid on so that all the flavours can blend
  8. Taste and add salt and pepper if required, remove the bay leaf and serve, drizzle about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil onto each plate (I also like to use chilli oil instead but I like it hot
  9. Add parmesan if you prefer (my in laws don’t but I do). Serve with some crusty fresh bread.

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