Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pasta e Fagioli

Even though it's not too cold out, I figured the first night of non-daylight savings called for a good, comforting hibernation type of meal. Don't get me wrong, I don't really enjoy the sun setting pretty much in the middle of the afternoon, but there's something about it getting dark so early that makes me just a little happy. Probably knowing the holidays are around the corner, and that soon the trees on Michigan Avenue and on my street will be covered in little white lights that I can enjoy on my walk home from work, and not feeling at all guilty about having no desire to go anywhere besides the couch on a weekend night. Get back to me mid-February and I'm sure I'll be singing a different tune. But on a Sunday when the sun set at 4:37pm, the Jets and the Giants both won, and there were steaming bowls of pasta e fagioli on the dinner table, what's there to complain about?

Serves 2-3
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 link hot Italian sausage (pork, turkey, or chicken - not already cooked)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 white onion, diced
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 pound pasta - some sort of small tube shape
1 14-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
fresh basil for garnish

In a medium saucepan heat half the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the sausage link until browned on both sides and cooked through. Remove from pan and cut into slices, then cut the slices in half.

In the same pan add the rest of the olive oil, garlic, and onion and cook for about 3 minutes or until onion is softened. Add the sausage back to the pan. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and oregano and stir to combine. Make sure the tomato paste is incorporated into the stock. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a rapid boil.

Add the pasta and cook according to directions. When pasta is done remove from heat and stir in the cheese and beans. Serve with more cheese and basil.

I didn't take a lot of photos because the recipe is very quick, and because it's all pretty standard - chopped onions, heating up broth, grating cheese, etc. There are so many variations you can do - pancetta instead of sausage, sweet Italian sausage, no meat at all, no tomato paste, chopped Italian tomatoes instead of paste, red kidney beans instead of cannellini, purée half the beans in a food processor to make the broth thicker, use a sachet of herbs including a bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme...the list goes on. This version is a stew - somewhere between a soup, and pasta with sauce. The broth is thickened by the tomato paste, the starch from the pasta, and the cheese. Any way you make it, it's a "one pot" meal, can easily be doubled, and makes great leftovers for lunch the next day.

1 comment:

  1. Still waiting on a picture of Peter doing the dishes.