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How to make the perfect pasta e fagioli – recipe

by Ace Damon
Lucio Galletto's version: Pasta e fagioli is one of the few dishes that unify Italy.

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Described by Ligurian Chef Lucio Galletto in your book The art of pasta as "one of the few dishes that unify Italy," pasta and beans (pasta and fasoi, he says in the north, pasta doool if you're Dean Martin) is "warm and comforting peasant food", according to Russell Norman. It's also one of those recipes with as many versions as cooks, differing not only, Gennaro Contaldo observes, from region to region, “but also between families”.

These starchy, healthy dishes were once an important part of daily diets across Europe, and beans are easy to grow and store – in fact, St. Benedict's very strict rule gave the monks a liter of beans and a pound of bread a day And while we all have access to more exotic dishes these days, it's hard to deny their attractions as an economical and satisfying alternative to the stomach. But if you don't have a precious nonna recipe, what is the best way to enjoy pasta and fagioli?

The beans

Lucio Galletto's version: one of the few dishes that unify Italy's. Thumbs by Felicity Cloake.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this universally popular dish can be made with several different beans – Marcella Hazan calls borlotti, "brilliantly marbled in white and pink", the "classic" variety in its foundations of classical Italian cuisine, recommending the fresh type when in season. When cooked, she says, "its flavor is unlike any other bean, subtly reminiscent of nuts." Outside of the summer season, the droughts used by Anna, one of the nonnas in the new book Pasta Grannies, and Norman in his book Polpo, are a "totally satisfactory substitute". Contaldo recommends keeping in your Perfecto! Paste, however, weather permitting, you can use dry if you prefer; Galletto's recipe, "alla montanara", employs "large dried white beans called fagioli di Spagna in Italian" and, I assume, butter beans in English.

Fortunately, I find fresh and sweet-spotted borlotti without much trouble and I can confirm that they really are worth tracking down (or planting for next year): plump and walnuts are a product far superior to the dry type. However, as the season comes to an end, they are not the most practical recommendation. Tinned work is great, especially if you're in a hurry (Contaldo's recipe can be on the table in half an hour), but drying is a better alternative simply because you can taste them as you please while cooking and using baking. water to make a real bean broth, of which later. If you canning, loosen the water from the can with chicken broth or vegetables.

Norman cooks his beans with onion, garlic and rosemary, while nonna Anna and Galletto appear carrot and celery. Garlic's sharpness doesn't look right here for some reason, but the other vegetables combine very well with the grain soil, giving them a fuller, rounder flavor.

Hazan and Contaldo mix some of the beans cooked in the stock to thicken it, which seems an eminently sensible idea, making the whole dish even more emphatically sticky – and in this case, although Galletto's butter grains work well, we find that they don't taste like borlotti – even the beans suggested by Hazan would probably be a more interesting option. So often relegated to a supporting role, beans should be the main ingredient of this dish.

The base

Gennaro Contaldo's recipe for fagioli & # 39; s can be on the table in half an hour & # 39.

Gennaro Contaldo's recipe for fagioli & # 39; s can be on the table in half an hour & # 39.

Just infusing beans is not enough; all the recipes I try include a fried onion or base, usually also with carrots and celery, sometimes with garlic and, in Galletto's case, also red pepper, which is then combined with beans and broth. Some, including Contaldo and Anna, add pancetta and crumbly sausage, and some like Galletto use ham – this dish is delicious without meat, but if you eat, a little pork fat is rarely a bad thing for flavor. Pancetta is the easiest way to accomplish this, but for a more substantial, almost thick soup, Anna's sausage version is a winner among my testers. Otherwise, I will keep the suffering quite simple by adding more in onion, celery and carrot mode to give the dish a variety of texture and flavor: pepper, garlic, celery leaves etc. you.

The liquid

How to make the perfect pasta e fagioli - recipe

"Peasant food of the hottest and comforting kind": Russell Norman pasta and fagioli.

Tomatoes are very optional – they are not part of Contaldo's recipe – but until they cool down to the beans, they add a nice dose of umami. In fact, if you really like it, try Norman's version, which mixes with a rich, braised tomato sauce to create a robust, creamy tomato and bean soup that is certainly the very definition of a cockle heater, whatever it is. whatever in italian

Hazan loosens his soup with broth and Contaldo with vegetables, but I'll stick to the bean cooking liquid, so the predominant flavor is this rather than meat or aromatics. If you would like to use broth, a neutral chicken would be my preference for omnivores.

Make it thick or thin as you like it: According to Contaldo's sister Adriana, “the real pasta and fagioli must have a thicker consistency,” but I would be very surprised if there weren't millions of Italians prepared to argue exactly opposite .

Mass

Marcella Hazan uses 'maltagliati, or fresh egg pellets'.

Marcella Hazan uses 'maltagliati, or fresh egg pellets'.

Of course, there is no consensus here either. Norman writes: “I saw it done with tagliatelle, bigoli and penne, none of this seems right to me. I like the pasta to be about the same size as the beans, ”which means small dry noodles. Contaldo orders tagliatelle of fresh egg or pappardelle, cut to lengths of 7 cm, Galetto for maccheroncini, ditalini or broken spaghetti, and Hazan and Anna make their own in the form of maltagliati, or fresh egg noodle pellets, and cresc & tajat respectively.

The latter, a specialty of Le Marche, is, according to the woman behind Pasta Grannies book and project, Vicky Bennison, “a good example of frugal cooking. It used to be made with leftover polenta and served with wild vegetables or cooked beans, which Anna did for us. I squeeze the cold polenta with flour, roll it and cut it into diamond shapes before cooking in boiling water – it has a satisfying solidity that we all love, and if there is any polenta left, I recommend the idea. Otherwise, as it is a simple and economical dish, use the dry noodles you have on hand; I think light chewing is more enjoyable with soft beans than fresh ones, but whatever floats on your boat. Personally, I don't like spaghetti (so hard to pick up) so I use Norman noodles.

Galetto also uses potatoes, cooking them and pasta in the residual heat of the broth. My potatoes are still crispy, even after two hours, but I like the idea of ​​them, if you want to make the dish even bigger: some days it's just three days of starch.

finish

If you're feeling good, Norman's garlic and rosemary oil are a lovely and vigorous way to finish the dish, but for me it's all about comfort, so I'm doing it like Marcella and adding a butter nut and a dash of Parmesan. And a big big spoon.

Perfect pasta and fagioli

Preparation 10 min
Soak 8 hr
Cook 90 min
Yield: 4 servings

175g dry borlotti beans
2 celery sticks
2 carrots
1 large onion
Rosemary Sprig (optional)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
75g of greasy pancetta, minced (optional)
2 pickled tomatoes
175g small pasta or other dry pasta
25g of butter
15g grated Parmesan or pecorino

Dip the beans in plenty of cold water for about eight hours and then drain. Put in a large pan with one of the carrots and celery sticks, both cut in half and half of the onion.

Fagioli01: 1 Place the soaked borlotti beans in a pan with a carrot, a celery and half an onion. Cover with water, bring to a boil and cook for one hour.

Place the soaked borlotti beans in a pan with a carrot, a celery stick and half an onion. Cover with water, bring to a boil and cook for one hour.

Cover with cold water about 3 cm, bring to a boil, then slide over. Add rosemary, if using, turn off the heat and cook until the beans are tender (this should take about an hour, depending on the freshness). Make sure the beans are always covered with water;

At the end of the cooking time, peel and chop the remaining onion, carrot and celery into very fine dice, keeping the onion separate.

Fagioli 03: 2 Dice and fry remaining onion, carrot and celery in olive oil until soft and golden

Dice and fry remaining onion, carrot and celery in olive oil until tender and golden.

Heat the oil in a large, high saucepan over medium-low heat and sauté the onion until soft and golden, add the carrot and celery and do the same. Add pancetta, if using, and fry until it releases its fat; Then mix the tomatoes, finishing with the spoon.

Fagioli 04: Mix the tomatoes - break with a wooden spoon.

Mix tomatoes – break them with a wooden spoon.

After the beans are cooked, remove and discard the vegetables and rosemary and remove a shell from the beans. Mash them with some water to cook, then mix the soup with all the beans and plenty of water to make a thick soup.

Let the soup boil gently while you cook the pasta in boiling salted water in another pan until al dente.

Cook the pasta, mash some of the beans and add both to the soup with a little butter. Serve with parmesan sprinkled on top.

Cook the pasta, mash some of the beans and add both to the soup with a little butter. Serve with parmesan sprinkled on top.

Stir the drained noodles in the soup along with the butter, cover, remove the heat and let stand for five minutes. Season to taste and serve with a hint of cheese.

• Noodles and beans: up there with toast for comfort, or a lot of good starch? Thick or stewed beans, borlotti or white, noodles or spaghetti – how do you make yours and what do you season it with?

This article…

. (tagsToTranslate) Food (t) Pasta (t) Vegetables (t) Cheese (t) Italian Food and Drink

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