Classic Pasta e Fagioli

Do you love Italian food? I love Italian food. For me, it’s the ultimate comfort food. I could eat pasta in sauce all day, every day. While classic dishes like lasagna and spaghetti are known and loved the world over, the lesser known Pasta e Fagioli is just as delicious. This Classic Pasta e Fagioli recipe is sure to please.

Pasta e Fagioli literally translates to “pasta and beans” (it is often pronounced “pasta fazool” in the United States) and that’s exactly what it is: a meatless pasta dish. Like many other Italian classics, such as pizza and polenta, it started as a peasants dish, being composed of inexpensive ingredients. Pasta e Fagioli is commonly made using cannellini beans (or borlotti beans) and small pasta, such as elbow macaroni or ditalini. The base is usually olive oil, garlic and minced onion along with stewed tomatoes or tomato paste, although the recipe varies greatly based on the region or town in which it’s prepared, as well as the available ingredients.

The cannellini bean (also called the white kidney bean) is a variety of white bean resembling candy and is related to the kidney bean. It is a popular bean in central and southern Italy. Cannellini beans contain phytohaemagglutinin which is a lectin found in plants, especially in legumes. It is found in the highest concentrations in red and white kidney beans, has a number of psychological effects and is used in medical research. In high doses, it is a toxin. As a toxin it can cause poisoning in humans through the consumption of raw or improperly-prepared kidney beans, but is reduced to safe levels by correct cooking (usually boiling for at last 30 minutes at 100 degC). Insufficient cooking, such as in a slow cooker at 80 degC can actually increase the danger by fivefold. It is therefore extremely important when cooking cannellini beans that extreme precaution is taken to cook correctly. When done correctly there is no harm posed and they are a wonderful addition to the classic Pasta e Fagioli.

The recipe for this Classic Pasta e Fagioli dish is shared by Rosella, of popular food recipe blog “Cooking with Nonna”, who prepares incredibly delicious classic Italian recipes. Her directions for cooking the cannellini beans include soaking them overnight and boiling for at least 3 ˝ hours, until the beans are fully cooked (soft). Added to the beans are bay leaves, salt, garlic, olive oil, celery and tomatoes. This all stews for 3 ˝ hours creating an absolutely wonderful and rich flavor profile. The only other step required is to separately cook the pasta (ditalini is recommended, due to its shape and small size). Once the bean soup is fully cooked, you pour it over your pasta, add an extra dash of extra-virgin olive oil and your Classic Pasta e Fagioli is ready to serve, the old-fashioned Italian way. Buon appetito!

Learn MORE / Get RECIPE at Cooking with Nonna

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