Thursday, April 18, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Pasta Fagioli - Pasta and Beans l Preparing Dried Beans

April… Taxes… Oy!!
Stlll, a person has to eat.
Maybe not so high off the hog.
Not after filling out those tax forms.
But that doesn't mean you can't eat something delicious.

As I've said before, Junior's recipes in his chapter The Soprano Family Tradition in Artie's The Sopranos Family Cookbook are really basic, right off the boat recipes.
Here's a classic: Pasta Fagioli - Pasta and Beans.

What could be cheaper… or more delicious.

If you like more of a garlic kick (as I do) mince the cloves of garlic finely and leave them in the pot.

I find elbow macaroni works well in this dish.
Al  dente means the pasta is tender yet still firm to the bite.

If you're using dried beans, they'll need a little prep work.
One cup of dried beans will give you an amount equal to 3 Cups canned.
Oh, if you have different beans, no problem.

Preparing Dried Beans

Place in a bowl
1 Cup dried cannellini or Great Northern beans
enough cold water to cover by 2 inches
Let stand for 4 hours, or overnight, in the refrigerator.
If the beans appear above water level, add more water.

Drain the beans and place them in a pot with fresh water to cover by 1/2 inch.
Over low heat, bring to a simmer.
Cover the pot and simmer about 1 hour.
If the beans appear above water level, add more water.
When the beans are soft, drain and use as canned.

                        Pasta Fagioli

Serves 8

In a large saucepan place
1/4 Cup olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1 celery rib, chopped
Cook over moderate heat.
When the garlic is lightly golden, discard it.

1 Cup Italian tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1/2 Cup water
pinch of crushed red pepper (or 1 small dried peperoncino, crumbled)
salt to taste
Simmer for 10 minutes.

3 Cups canned (or prepared) cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
Mash some of the beans with the back of a large spoon.
Bring the mixture to a simmer.

Stir in
8 ounces ditalini or spaghetti or any pasta in about 1 inch pieces
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente.
If the soup seems too thick, add boiling water.
Turn off the heat, and let it stand 10 minutes before serving.

Would I make Pasta Fagioli again?
It's a basic item at my house.
Even when it's not tax time.
A loaf of crusty Italian bread goes well with it.
After eating all those carbs, who could be nervous?

One recipe down.  Twenty-one more to go.

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