Sunday, 6 April 2014

Pasta e Fagioli

This is based on the classic Italian dish of pasta with beans (fagioli) in a thick and flavourful vegetable soup.

You can use any kind of beans - I’ve gone with a tin of 3-bean salad - as well as pretty much any veg you have laying around and you fancy. And in fact pretty much any pasta goes too: small is probably best so I’ve used some macaroni that was lying at the back of the cupboard in wait for me to finally getting around to making macaroni cheese but you could also use spaghetti. Just make sure you break into smaller (say, 3cm) lengths.

Ideally you would use homemade stock but a good, preferably organic, stock cube or powder is still good.

The classic pasta e fagioli topping is a swirl of extra virgin oil and Parmesan - the latter present here in the additional form of Parmesan croutons. Simplicity in itself, simply cut some oldish bread into 2cm cubes and place them in a roasting tin. Drizzle over some olive oil then some grated Parmesan and gently toss to coat the bread then cook in preheated oven for 5 minutes or so or until golden.

By the way, this was amazing for lunch next day but if you're going to do that only add the pasta the next day else it may be a bit too mushy.

Pasta e Fagioli
Serves 3-4

4 rashers or medallions of smoked bacon, chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 small or 1 fat clove of garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp chilli flakes
sprig or 2 of sage, leaves picked and finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 fat leek, halved and sliced thinly
3 carrots, halved lengthways and sliced thinly (I used 4 small ones)
Parmesan rind (optional)
400g tin mixed beans, drained and rinsed
1 litre stock (I used pork but chicken or veg is fine)
200g tin plum tomatoes
1 ½ tbsp tomato purée
60g small pasta shapes
small handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
grated Parmesan, to serve
day old bread, cubed
olive oil, to serve

Fry the bacon in a large non-stick pan (it will cook in its own fat) until golden, then add the shallot, garlic leeks, celery and carrots along with the chilli flakes, herbs and a piece of Parmesan rind and cook for about 15 minutes until softened.

Tip in the beans, chicken stock, chopped tomatoes and tomato purée and pasta and simmer until the pasta is cooked.

Take off the heat, remove the bay leaf and Parmesan rind and stir through the parsley. Cover and leave to stand for 10 minutes then taste and carefully adjust the seasoning.

Serve in bowls topped with a swirl of olive oil, Parmesan croutons and a good grind of black pepper.

No comments:

Post a Comment