Pasta with Beans (Pasta e fagioli)

This is classic vegetarian Italian pasta. Fresh beans are best but the dish is easily made with dried beans in the winter time.  Many Italian families grow their Romano beans, garlic, basil and tomatoes. To use fresh beans, shell them and freeze them with no additional processing. To use the fresh or frozen beans, barely cover them with water, bring to a boil and simmer till tender, about 10 minutes. Then proceed with the recipe by adding the salt, garlic, etc.

  • 1 cup (250 mL) dried Romano beans
  • 3 cups (750 mL) water
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large branch, fresh basil
  • 1 – 5 ½ oz (156 mL) tin tomato paste
  • 1 – 28 oz ( mL) tin Roma tomatoes
  • 2 tbsps (30 mL) olive oil
  • 2 cups (500 mL) pasta, penne, fusilli or macaroni
  • Olive oil, crushed, dried hot peppers, chopped fresh basil & grated Parmesan cheese, as needed

If using dry beans, rinse them well and soak in cold water overnight. The next day, transfer beans and soaking liquid to small, heavy saucepan. Cover, bring to a boil and cook over low heat till tender and the beans begin to absorb the liquid, about 1 1/2 hours.

Add salt, garlic and basil. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes. Add tomato paste and an equal amount of water. Chop the Roma tomatoes and add them with their juice to the beans. Stir in the oil. Continue to simmer till the sauce thickens.

In a separate saucepan, cook the pasta in boiling salted water till barely tender. Drain and serve immediately in soup bowls with the beans ladled on top. Let each diner add olive oil, crushed hot peppers, chopped fresh basil and grated Parmesan, to their own taste.

Serves 6

From Anita Stewart’s CANADA: The Food, The Recipes, The Stories (Harper Collins Canada 2008/2014) 

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