Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pasta e fagioli

I have tried multiple versions of this recipe and this is the one I currently like best. I am writing down a version I cooked based on notes taken during the PBS show Lidia's Italy in America. I ignored, mis-transcribed or contradicted some points of Lidia's recipe, so the one she cooked will look quite different from mine. Also she didn't give amounts and I didn't use measuring cups; measurements are approximate. I write the way I cooked it the first time, and in parentheses mention how Lidia cooked it and how I cooked it the second time.

Mince (Lidia processed to a paste but I just used a chef's knife):

4 cloves garlic
about 1T fresh rosemary
about 4 oz. bacon

warm in a heavy pan and let fat render. Chop (again, Lidia used a food processor and I a knife):

2 carrots
1/2 large white onion

add to the pan and fry until onions translucent. now add:

a little salt
(1) anaheim pepper, chopped (Lidia used pepperoncini; 2nd time i used a handful of little pickled pepperoncini, and had more from the jar as garnish)
(1) 22 oz. can italian plum tomatoes (Lidia instead used tomato paste, so her soup was much less tomato-like)
1t white vinegar (Lidia didn't add this, but i added it to balance the tomatoes; 2nd time i put 2T of brine from the pepperoncini jar instead of vinegar)

bring to a boil and add:

4 c hot beef stock (Lidia used boiling water)
1c (dry basis) white beans cooked in water with bay leaves, and their cooking liquid (Lidia put rehydrated but raw beans; 2nd time i used 2c)
(2) medium potatoes, peeled and cut in big dice
black pepper

meanwhile boil in as little water as possible a pound of

1lb pennene (like penne, but smaller [Lidia used ditalini; 2nd time i used elbows])

when potatoes are done, partly mash the soup with bean masher. remove pasta from pasta water when al dente with a fry basket and set aside. there should be about 2c pasta water left. dump this into the soup. Lidia just put the dry pasta in the soup to cook. i consider my method superior because you still get the texture benefit of the pasta starch but pasta does not expand in the soup while storing.

serve bowls, putting pasta to your liking.