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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta Fazool)

Pasta Fagioli, or Pasta Fazool as Neapolitans say it, just means pasta with beans and is a common dish around many Southern Italian homes, we had it at least once a week around my house. It seemed to go like this in our home: every Saturday it was a Ragu with Spaghetti and then on Sunday it was Ziti al Forno made with the left over Ragu and on Monday my Mom usually made the much lighter and healthier Pasta Fagioli. Pasta Fagioli is very economical--a buon mercato-- and very simple to make but there are a few pointers that make all the difference. It must not to be too soupy or too thick, it's not really a soup dish or a pasta dish like spaghetti and red sauce but rather like something in between. If it is too thick add some  water, or if it's too liquidy mash some of the beans and cook down some more with the lid off. The second thing is that it needs a small amount of acid other wise it can be very boring. My Nonna Flora always squirted some lemon on just before serving, this makes all the difference in the world but I also like to add 1 crushed tomato something my family in Naples would never do but I believe this small addition of tomato is what finally what won my husband over to this dish. And....after you eat my Pasta Fazool you will know what Dean Martin was singing about  : )
"When the stars make you drool just like a pasta fazool , That's amore, Signore Scuzza me, but you see, back in old Napoli That's amore!" ~ Dean Martin
28 oz. can cannelinni beans (rinsed off)
Listen to the song HERE!
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 small onion diced
1celery diced
1 carrot diced (optional)
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 large tomato crushed or 1/3 cup canned crushed tomatoes 
6-8 oz. mezza tubetti, or small sea shell, or fiori or any other short stubby pasta
herb: chopped rosemary, thyme, or oregano
2 slices bacon chopped
black pepper & salt
Parmesan cheese
1 lemon to squeeze all the juice on the whole dish at the very end! 
In a medium heavy bottomed pot sauté the bacon and remove to drain. Set aside to add at the end but leave the grease in the pot.
Saute the celery, onion, carrot, herbs, & garlic in the grease & olive oil on /med low heat until very soft but not brown at all. I even add the lid towards the end for a few minutes and allow it to soften up more.
Add wine and cook out alcohol, about 1-2 minutes.
Add tomato and simmer for a few minutes without a lid to reduce the liquid a little.
Add the beans and along with 2 cans full of water  to the above sauce mixture, salt and pepper,  and simmer for about 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Add pasta to pot and cook for amount mentioned on package with the lid off.
 If it is too thick (You want it thick but still kind of soupy) add some water and cook a few minutes. I usually start with  a ladle full at a time if needed. If it is too liquidy take some beans (1/4 cup) out and mash adding back in and cook with the lid off until desired thickness.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice,  &  black pepper, and some grated Parmesan. We almost always have hard crusty day old bread with this dish to soak up the yummy delicious juices and I can't even imagine eating this dish with out it!

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