Tuesday, 10 November 2015

What's Bean Cooking in My Kitchen?

Pasta, Fagioli Borlotti & Cicoria
"Pasta Fazool" with Borlotti Beans & Chicory

Some dishes take a little bit longer to prepare- some ingredients take a little bit longer to cook... but some of them are so delicious that it is well worth the while- such as a lovely pasta and bean soup- or "pasta fazool" as Italo-Americans call it- or pasta e fagioli as it is actually called in Italy!

So, what are you to do if you want to make this from scratch, using fresh vegetables, but you live on your own and have a busy work schedule?

What you can do, is what I did this morning... and that was to start cooking the ingredients before I set out to work, to give me a head-start with supper when I got home this evening.

I let the beans cook for a full hour, which took no work or attention whatsoever, and let the vegetables simmer for around 30-40 minutes, whilst I had a coffee and got ready to set out to work... and thank goodness that I did!

As you can see, I had some beautiful Borlotti beans this evening and 2 handfuls were plenty to make 2-3 bowls of soup. In addition to the beans came 2 handfuls of wild chicory, which was actually the outer leaves of the puntarelle I ate on Saturday- but you could also use cabbage, kale or spinach. The vegetables I added were 1 shallot, 1 small carrot, 1 small parsnip, 1/2 stalk of celery and 5-6 cherry tomatoes. I added 1 tablespoon of tomato paste for a little more richness, 1 bayleaf for a little aroma and to help make the beans easier to digest and otherwise simply, salt, pepper and olive oil for seasoning.

And because I am Sicilian and just can't help myself- a hint of salted ricotta grated on top at the end... mmmm!

This is what we are talking about when we mention "cucina povera" or slow food in general- good, traditional ingredients, no fussing, no frills... and very, very good eating! Just like mama used to make... well... almost!

I began by briefly frying the diced carrot, celery, shallot and parsnip in a little olive oil. After 3-4 minutes, I added plenty of boiling water- up to about twice the height of the vegetables, a good pinch of salt and let them simmer away gently for around 30-40 minutes.

 boiled the beans in a small saucepan, with a leaf of bay, for around an hour, with no salt added at this stage.

And then I turned off both the vegetables and the beans, bid them farewell, got on with my day and looked forward to seeing them again as soon as I got home!

When I got back in the evening, I added the greens, cut into small mouth-sized pieces, the cherry tomatoes cut into quarters and the beans into the vegetable broth, so that everything was all together in one pot. I brought everything up to the boil, checked the seasoning for salt and pepper, added 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and added more water, so that everything was nicely covered.

This simmered away for 30 minutes or so, until all of the flavors were nicely combined and the beans were tender and soft.

All I needed to do then was to add a couple of handfuls of pasta and to let it cook for around 15 minutes... and then my most wonderful "pasta fazool" was ready to serve!

Plenty of freshly ground pepper and a good drizzle of olive oil are an absolute must!

And a little grated salted ricotta for me, or grated parmesan for you, make for a nice optional extra! Ok- I will let you see if you like the ricotta too, being as I like you! Hehe!

Stir together well, thank the heavens that you thought of starting to prepare this in advance... and thoroughly enjoy! This is a plate full of comfort and joy!

No comments:

Post a Comment