I first heard of this book when Kay sent me to Dawn's blog to read about it. After I raved in a comment, Dawn most generously sent me the book, and it is now one of my favorite cookbooks. As I read through it, I was amazed at how many of the dishes are vegetarian or can be made so very easily. I also saw many dishes we already make, including spaghetti with garlic and olive oil and pasta with sautéed vegetables. Her tomato sauce is much like mine, only leaving out the onion. I'll be offering more recipes from this wonderful book as time goes on. Here is one of many videos from you tube featuring Clara.
This is a very special book because it is both a cookbook and a personal history. There are family stories and photographs which are as much a part of the story as the recipes. One of my favorite phrases on earth is pasta fagioli, pronounced pasta fazool, and sometimes without the 'l' on the end. I'll post her version first, and then note the few changes I made. A real treat today is that the garlic and onion and basil all came from our garden.
Pasta With Beans (Pasta Fagioli)
Hands on: 30 minutes Total time: 1 hour, plus overnight soaking if using dried beans Serves:6
“Between you and me, I used to hate eating Pasta With Beans, but that’s because we had to eat it so much. Over the years, I’ve started to like it more. I remember in my house growing up, there were lots of things I didn’t like to eat that my mother made me eat. And then there were lots of things my own family didn’t like to eat. But I made them anyway. I guess that’s just how it goes. We had Pasta With Beans almost every week, sometimes twice or three times a week. Usually my mom would just make it with pasta, beans, garlic and olive oil, but every so often she would make a real Pasta Fagioli. And that would be really special.”
“If you decide to use dried beans, rinse them well before cooking. Add 1 cup dried cannellini beans to 6 cups boiling water and rapid boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cover. Soak overnight. Makes about 2 cups. Before you begin, cook the pre-soaked beans by boiling them in water with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes. Turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for an additional hour.”
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cups tomato sauce (jarred or homemade)
3 1/2 cups water
1 carrot, chopped
1 whole celery rib (with leaves), chopped
1 cup dried cannellini beans (white kidney beans) or 2 cups canned
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 large basil leaf
2 dried red pepperoncini, crushed
1 pound small-shaped pasta (ditalini, mini-shells)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Grated pecorino Romano cheese
In a large pot set to medium-high heat, add olive oil. Add garlic and onion and cook until caramelized, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomato sauce, water, carrot, celery, cannellini beans, bouillon cubes, basil leaf and pepperoncini. Cover, venting slightly, and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced, about 35 minutes.
While the sauce is reducing, cook the pasta to al dente (about 2 minutes less than what the directions on the box say, about 7 minutes). Strain pasta and pour it into the sauce. Turn off heat and stir 2 minutes. Top with fresh parsley and pecorino Romano cheese and serve.
I put a cup of cannellini beans in the crockpot, and cooked them until soft, a few hours.
I chopped a carrot and cooked it a bit in a saucepan. I've found that carrots take forever to soften if cooked along with other vegetables.
I chopped the onion and garlic and the basil leaf.
I cooked the onion for a while in the 5 T. olive oil, then added the garlic and basil (I used the rest of the basil for a spring salad. Toward the end of cooking, I threw in the cooked carrot just for fun, and cooked a short while longer. I did this in a small frypan.
I put the 2 cups tomato sauce
and the cannellini beans and water into a big saucepan.
I added the onion, garlic, basil, and carrot, and that was it. I didn't have celery or parsley or pepperoncini. Though I do have a vegetable broth made by the Rapunzel company, I chose not to use it.
The smallest pasta I had on hand was elbow macaroni, and this worked just fine. Honestly you could eat the bean mixture without any pasta at all if you wished. It is just delicious, and a bit similar to a few of the stews I've made (see under main meals on the sidebar). A fantastic dish, and as healthy as can be!