Friday, 17 December 2010

Pasta e fagioli – Pasta and beans

Meat-free winter comfort food, as many versions as there are comuni in Italy. Here it is Bolognese style, in other words, with quite a lot of parmesan and more than a hint of balsamic. The beans I used were gigantic runner beans, harvested when the pods had yellowed and stiffened in October, but you could use borlotti beans just as well, or even chick peas. Equally, you can use almost any kind of pasta - I used some home made pappardelle. The quantity of garlic may seem excessive but slow cooking mellows it. In the photo, I served the dish with a dollop of pesto on top but that is optional.

You can watch a different version being prepared, espresso at


200g dried beans

4 bay leaves

1 head of garlic

1 onion

3 sticks of celery

2 carrots

4tbls olive oil

1 can chopped tomatoes

2tbls good balsamic vinegar

50g parsley

200g pasta

75g parmesan


1. Soak the beans overnight. The next day bring them to the boil in fresh water with bay leaves and garlic, then place them in a slow oven for several hours to soften. Then strain and keep warm, discarding the bay leaves. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin and add to the beans.

2. Meanwhile, finely chop the vegetables – onion, celery and carrot – and gently fry in olive oil with the lid on until they soften and begin to brown. Now add the chopped tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and half a cup of water, bring to the boil and simmer for an hour until the ingredients have amalgamated to form a sauce. Add the beans and the finely chopped parsley.

3. Cook the pasta until just al dente, drain and add to the sauce and the beans. Stir in the parmesan.

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