Pasta with Runner Beans, Crispy Bread Crumbs and Bacon
I am sure you are all familiar with the expression "pasta fazool" and that you know that the word "fazool" is based on the Northern Italian pronunciation of fagioli, which simply means beans... well here is my Springtime version for you!
The traditional dish is more of a Winter affair, having a broth/sauce to it, making it a thick and hearty soup-like meal. My version is more "pasta asciutta" than "pasta a brodo"... with no sauce, but to make up for it with lovely golden bread crumbs for a delicious crunch!
To make this dish, I began by boiling the pasta as according to the instructions on the bag- in this case, for there "Castellane", that meant 9 minutes! Well... maybe in most other cases... but we are going to finish these off in the frying pan along with the other ingredients- so some improvisation was called for!
before I prepared anything else, it was the bacon that I cut into thin strips across the grain and dry-fried in a non-stick pan until crispy- then set to one side and continued with the bread crumbs, which went straight into the same pan and sizzled in the remaining bacon fat.
I finished the bread crumbs off by using a little grated Parmesan, some finely chopped parsley and a light drizzle of olive oil, stirring this together with the bread crumbs and then toasted in a frying pan over moderate heat until golden. Seasoning was just a little pepper and grated nutmeg... simple!
After the pasta had been boiling for 4 minutes or so, I added the runner beans, cut into bite-sized diagonals, so that they could boil for a while. In the meantime, I removed the bread crumbs from the frying pan and began to sizzle some finely chopped onion and garlic in a little olive oil. As soon as the onion was translucent and the garlic slightly brown, I added the cherry tomatoes, which I cut in half.
After the tomatoes had fried for a couple of minutes, I added the pasta, together with a little of the cooking water- hisss!!! This of course deglazed the saucepan and brought up all of the good flavors! I added a good handful of freshly plucked thyme, a pinch of pepper and a splash of green Tabasco for some mild heat... and continued cooking for 2-3 minutes until everything was nicely blended together.
I served the pasta up with a sprinkle of bread crumbs, the crispy bacon and some freshly grated parmesan... and do I need to tell you how amazing it tasted? No! Because the better solution would be for you to go ahead and try this out for yourselves!