Growing up in an Italian household in the 1950's, Pasta Fagioli (pasta and beans) was a standard Friday night dinner at our house. The rule was 'don't eat meat on Friday'. A simple salad of iceberg lettuce and tomato wedges drizzled with olive oil and red wine vinegar was served after the meal. Yes, we always had salad after a meal, not before. This is my family's ever so simple recipe.
- 3/4 cup dried beans, Great Northern or cannellini
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
- 1 Tblsp. tomato paste
- red pepper flakes, just a pinch or more if you dare
- 2 Tblsp. olive oil
- salt to taste
- 8 oz. ditalini or small shells
Put beans in a bowl with cold water to cover by 2 inches. Let soak overnight in the refrigerator. The beans will expand so be sure they are completely covered with water.
Drain the water off and rinse with fresh cold water.
Place beans in a large pot with enough water to cover by 1/2 inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until beans are tender. About 1 hour. Add more water if necessary to keep beans submerged.
When the beans are almost done, heat oil in a small skillet and lightly saute celery until tender 3 or 4 minutes, then add garlic and saute another minute. Add celery, garlic,oil, tomato paste and red pepper flakes to beans. Keep warm.
In a separate pan, cook pasta as directed on package. Drain and add to bean pot.
Serve hot with grated parmesan cheese. Serves 4 - 6
When a recipe calls for a small amount of tomato paste, I like to use the kind that's in a tube. It lasts a long time in the fridge and there's no waste.