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Tweaking Giada's Recipe For Pasta Fagioli

Michele Brigante adds a little bit of this, a little bit of that.

Pasta Fagioli is a very easy and tasty peasant dish. My grandmother always called it "Pasta Fazoul." I guess it's just one of those things that depend on where you are from. 

Every family has its own recipe, but basically they all have pasta, beans and stock. You can make this dish more soupy by adding more broth and thinning it out (don't puree the beans) or you can eat it thicker, the way I like it by following the recipe below. 

Giada Delaurentis' recipe is very easy and spot on, but I made some minor changes. Giada's recipe calls for red kidney beans but I know it to be traditionally made with cannellini beans so I used both (3 cans in total). I love the color that the kidney beans give to the dish.  
I didn't make a bouquet garni and instead just chopped the herbs and added them to the pot. I used 4 ounces of pancetta because that's the only size package Cittero makes (Steve wanted even more). As always, I used Romano cheese for topping but that's just personal preference. 

In the future I will use a tip that my friend Lucy of Sweets, Savories, etc., told me. Instead of pureeing some of the beans at the end, smash up some of the beans while they are in the can using a fork.  This makes a smoother texture. I didn't like how the food processor chopped up the pancetta with the beans.  Thanks Lucy for a great tip!  I can't wait to try it.

Giada's Pasta e Fagioli
by Giada DeLaurentiis

See this recipe on the food network by clicking here.

Ingredients:

4 sprigs, fresh thyme
1 large sprig, rosemary
1 bay leaf
(I don't make a bouquet garni with the above herbs, I just throw them in the pot)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 oz chopped pancetta (I use 4 oz, but more could be used)
2 tsp minced garlic
5 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 - 14.5 ounce cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (I used two cans of cannelini beans and one can of kidney beans)
3/4 cup elbow macaroni
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan (I used Romano)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


Directions:

1.  Wrap the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth and secure closed with kitchen twine. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, pancetta, and garlic and saute until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, beans, and sachet of herbs. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the sachet. Puree 1 cup of the bean mixture in a blender until smooth*. Before putting the puree back into the soup, add the macaroni and boil with the lid on until it is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Return the puree to the remaining soup in the saucepan and stir well. Season the soup with ground black pepper and red pepper flakes.

2.  Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with some Parmesan and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil just before serving.
  
*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

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