Monday, October 31, 2011

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta Fazool)

I am a highly suggestible person. Whenever I hear That's Amore by Dean Martin I want pasta fazool. For those of you who aren't familiar with the song beyond “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie,” the second verse says, “When the stars make you drool just like pasta fazool.” I can't help it, I love the stuff. I've had many different varieties of this rustic dish. I've never had one I didn't like.

The best thing about pasta fazool is that it's easy. You can substitute almost any of the ingredients. You need pasta. You need some kind of stock. You need vegetables. You can use left over meatloaf or bacon or Italian sausage. Of course, you can make it vegetarian by using vegetable stock and leaving out the meat. Check out all my substitutions at the end of the recipe. 

2 medium onions chopped 
3 medium stalks celery chopped 
2 medium carrots chopped 
6 cloves garlic minced 
1/2 lbs Italian sausage* 
1 qt chicken or vegetable stock** 
2 C chopped tomatoes*** 
3/4 C borlotti beans soaked overnight**** 
1/4 C chopped fresh basil 
1 bay leaf 
4 sprigs thyme 
salt and pepper to taste 
4 oz small, dried pasta***** 
Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving****** 

Brown the sausage in your stock pot then remove them from the pot leaving the fat behind. Depending on how fatty the sausage is you might need to add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pot. 

Put the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in the pot and cook until the volume is reduced by half. This will give greater flavor to the dish. 

Add the stock, tomatoes, beans, basil, bay leaf, pasta and sausage to the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low and cover for an hour and a half if you are using beans you soaked over night. If you are using canned 45 minutes should be enough. Check the carrots and remove from heat when they are done. 

Serve with a nice Italian bread.

I like my pasta fazool more like a stew. If you want a soup add an extra 2 cups of stock. This recipe should feed six as a stew. 

*I ended up with really spicy sausage so I ignored all of the additional spices. 
**I used my own homemade chicken stock. It already had the spices required. 
***I didn't use the tomatoes because I'm not allowed to have them and it turned out fine. 
 ****You can use almost any bean you like. You can also use canned which will shorten the cooking time considerably. I ended up using canned cannelli beans because that's what I had on hand. 
*****I used small shell pasta. 
******I used Romano because I like the flavor better than Parmesan. 

While I was waiting for my stew to finish I decided to look up the magical correspondences for some of the ingredients. I went straight to my favorite bobok,Wicca in the Kitchen by Scott Cunningham. While he didn't have an entry for pasta fazool, he did have some interesting things to say: 
Beans – Their planet is Mercury. Their element is air. Their energies are money and sex. They are also somehow connected to wealth. I think of the phrase “bean counter” meaning accountant. Carrots – Their planet is Mars. Their element is fire. Their energy is sex. Carrots increase sexual appetite. I wonder if that's one of those rabbit things. Carrots are supposed to be good for the eyes. Tradition says rabbits have good eyesight because they eat carrots. Maybe the carrots make they procreate like bunnies.Onions – Their planet is Mars. Their element is fire. Their energies are protection and weight loss. Onions, bread and beer were staples of the ancient Egyptian diet. Onions were used in incantations meant to keep harmful ghosts from children.

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