Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pasta e Fagioli

I haven't posted any cooking stuff lately and whilst trying to figure out dinner tonight from the available materials, one of the potential dishes is worth reminding people of. It's classic "cheap eats" and very simple and very good and good for you...especially if you use a whole wheat pasta.

You'll need:
1 8oz. can of tomato sauce
1 16oz. can of cannellini beans drained and rinsed
1 cup of water
2 cloves of garlic crushed
2 Tbsp of good olive oil.
1/2 pound small pasta like macaroni or ditalini (you want something about the same size as the beans)
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley
grated hard Italian cheese

In a medium sauce pan cook the garlic in the oil making sure not to burn it. It should just begin to brown. Add the tomato sauce, water and beans and simmer for about 10 minutes. In the meantime cook your pasta until just tender taking care not to overcook it. Add the drained, cooked pasta to the pan with the sauce, add the a little crushed red pepper if you like( I do!). Mix it to coat the pasta and serve in bowls with a sprinkle of parsley and grated cheese. Hint: reserve about a cup of your pasta cooking water to adjust the thickness of the sauce if you need to.

It's that simple and it really is tasty, cheap and wholesome. Also, you don't have to use the cannellini beans if you'd rather use pinto, kidney, garbanzo, or lima beans...whatever. Remember also that this is a basic recipe and you can modify it depending on what you have. If you don't have tomato sauce use canned crushed tomatoes or jarred marinara or even fresh ones, they just need to cook a little longer. If you don't have any tomatoes at all then you'll just have a white sauce...the garlic, parsley and cheese will still have plenty of flavor.

I'm thinking about $3 worth of groceries will serve 4 people here. Yeah, it's Italian peasant food but if you take a look at the pantheon of great Italian recipes you'll find the peasants well represented. The above recipe uses ingredients anyone can find in the grocery but you can raise it to heaven if you make your own pasta and cook your own dried cannellini. If you have never had slow roasted Italian white beans full of garlic, fresh sage and olive oil then you have missed a great experience...especially if they were cooked over an open fire.

Enjoy! and don't forge the Italian bread to soak up the sauce and a little red wine.

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