Thursday, 7 January 2016

That's Amore!

Pasta con i Borlotti
Pasta with Borlotti Beans

If the food makes you drool, just like pasta fazool... that's amore! And as you all know, "amore" is the Italian word for love... and pasta with beans- or "pasta fazool" as italian Americans call it- is something that I love!

There are many, many variations and methods of preparing pasta with beans- and of course many different kinds of beans that you can use... so let me share THIS version that I improvised today... and let me know what you think!

You can of course use beans from a can, or soak dried beans as well as using fresh beans- it's all good! And of course, the canned beans will be the quickest and easiest and are usually what I would use... but this time around, I happened to have lovely "fresh" borlotti beans from the market- meaning that they were shelled already and a little dried out, but not dehydrated and needing soaking overnight... but let me tell you how I went about preparing them in a way that caused a little less stress after a long day at the office...

For 2 bowls of pasta, I needed 2 cups of beans, 2 cups of pasta tubes, 1 carrot, 1 shallot, 1/2 stalk of celery, 6-7 cherry tomatoes, fresh parsley, salt, pepper and olive oil.

Beans DO take a long time to cook- especially these large sized but beautiful borlotti's- so what I decided to do was to start them boiling in the morning whilst I had my coffee, showered, shaved, brushed my teeth, dressed... all that stuff you have to do ANYWAY (unless you're a girl of course- then you can save the 5 minutes on shaving!). So yes- boil them for at least an hour ahead of time, in the morning when you won't even notice it... and you will have a head start when it comes around to suppertime and getting the dish proper put together. Plus... beans always tend to taste better when they have been reheated anyway.

When it comes to time to actually prepare your meal, start the beans boiling again and let them simmer in the background whilst you finely chop the shallot, celery and carrot into a very fine dice to make a "sofritto". let them boil for a good 20 minutes before you start with cooking the rest of the ingredients. 

Fry the sofritto in a little olive oil, until the shallot and celery become translucent.

Next, add the finely diced tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. At this point, you can add the pasta to the beans and let it begin to cook together for the next 3 minutes or so, in which time the tomatoes can render down and blend in with the sofritto to form a base for the broth for your pasta.

Once it is nice and soft like this, you can get ready to bring everything together.

Add the pasta beans and all of the broth and juices into your saucepan along with plenty of finely chopped parsley and it simmer away for the next 6-7 minutes or so.

Remove half of the beans and mash them down with a fork, then add them back into the saucepan and top up with boiling water. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as required and stir until the beans dissolve and thicken up the broth nicely.

Serve with plenty of freshly ground pepper and a good drizzle of olive oil and enjoy piping hot!

Another poor peoples dish, a simple one- but a perfectly warming and comforting meal on a cold Winter's night in any case! And it only took around 45 minutes to finish off in the evening after all!

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