In the heart of Italy, where traditions run as deep as the roots of ancient olive trees, there exists a culinary masterpiece that has warmed the hearts and bellies of generations: Pasta e Fagioli. This beloved Italian classic is a testament to the country's artful simplicity in the kitchen. As we delve into this cherished recipe, we'll honor the time-honored traditions of Italian cuisine by starting with dried cranberry beans, which infuse the dish with unparalleled depth of flavor and an exquisite, creamy texture. Additionally, we'll unlock the secret to achieving a luxurious broth, rich with umami, by introducing a parmesan rind into our pot, letting it meld seamlessly with the bean liquor.
So, let's embark on a culinary journey through the rolling hills of Italy, embracing the heartiness of cranberry beans and the soul-warming embrace of Pasta e Fagioli.
4 oz. pancetta (optional but recommended)
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup carrot chopped
- 1/4 cup celery chopped
- 1 yellow (white) onion chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
- 1 parmesan rind (optional)
- 2 bay leaves
- generous amounts of freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1 cup dry cranberry beans
- 5 cups water
- 4-5 whole san marzano tomatoes peeled (from a can) roughly chopped
- 1 pound pasta (I used mezzi rigatoni but you can use shells, or pretty much any shape)
- Add the pancetta to the bottom of a dutch oven or heavy pot and saute until slightly brown on the edges.
- Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oin in the pan and add the garlic, carrot, celery onion and rosemary.
- Saute until the onions are translucent. add salt and pepper, water and well rinsed dry beans.
- Add the water, add another tablespoon of olive oil, bay leaves and parmesan rind. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 1- 1.5 hours until the beans are tender and creamy.
- Remove the parmesan rind and bay leaves. Add the tomatoes and the pasta. Cook for 6-8 minutes until the pasta is al dente. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Top bowls with grated parmesan and a sprinkle of chopped rosemary and serve.
* Restaurant Trick - you can cook the soup and pasta separately and combine right before serving so that the pasta is perfectly done even if you had to hold dinner because your teenager was late getting home from soccer practice.