madonna del piatto

Italian family cooking


6 Comments

pasta e fagioli for pasta lovers

When the stars make you drool just like a pasta fazool - That's amore -(Dean Martin, 1953)

Italians have always been bean eaters. The bean is cheap protein after all.

Greeks ate lentils. Romans consumed  garbanzo beans and black-eyed peas daily. Commons beans arrived in Italy from America with Colombo and returned to America with Italian emigrants and their “pasta fazool”.

As for myself, I have had some bad bean experiences. The nuns at kindergarten fed us industrial amounts of a mushy porridge of rice and beans. Fatty pork rinds and overcooked macaroni have been looming in my father’s dinners. He’s the most Etruscan of the family.

As a consequence, I have become a bean snob, I only eat perfect beans. For that, I need good quality beans either fresh or dry, not canned. I need fresh herbs and good extra virgin olive oil. Last but not least, I do not mistreat my pasta. I use fresh egg pasta not ditalini or broken spaghetti. I cook it separately so it’s al dente. This way I get a heart warming, flavorful, wholesome dish. Just like it should be.

Recipe

  • 3 lt (3 quarts) cold water
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 medium whole onion, peeled
  • 1 medium carrot, scrubbed
  • 1 celery stalk, leaves removed
  • 1 sprig of rosemary and a few sage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 60 gr (2 ounces) fresh tagliolini (narrow fettuccine) per person
  • 250 gr (8 ounces) borlotti or cannellini beans

Soak beans overinight in cold water, rinse and transfer in in a tall  saucepan. Add onion,  carrot, tomato, celery, herbs and water. Cover and simmer slowly until beans are tender. Season with salt and black pepper.

Pure half of the beans and return to pan. Cover to keep warm. Cook pasta in plenty boiling hot water until al dente. Fresh tagliolini will take no more than one minute.  Just before serving, ladle beans into bowls, add pasta and drizzle with good EVO oil.

Variation:chop 1 clove garlic and 30 gr.  (one ounce) pancetta or guanciale. Cook the garlic and pancetta in 2 tablespoon olive oil  until fragrant and add to the beans.  Stir and serve. Decorate bowls with chopped cherry tomatoes.

This recipe is from my friend Roberta, owner of Trattoria degli Umbria a lovely restaurant in the centre of Assisi.


2 Comments

tagliolini with almond pesto and broad beans

tender broad beans, a spring delicacy

tender broad beans, a spring delicacy

TAGLIOLINI WITH PESTO AND BROAD BEANS. Umbrians love broad beans, fave. As soon as it’s spring, crates of the long green pods start to appear in markets and shops. Those who are lucky enough to have a vegetable garden will pick the young and tender ones and give bagfuls to their neighbors as a gift. The fave are eaten fresh, just out of the pod, often accompanied by a slice of young pecorino cheese.

Spring basil is tender and flavorful enough to make a pesto, either “alla genovese” with pine nuts (pignoli) or with almonds and ricotta like I do here. Summer basil would of course be much better for the pesto but then the fave are finished!

Recipe

  • 200 gr (7 ounces) dry egg tagliolini (very narrow fettuccine)
  • 200 gr (1 cup) broad beans (yields 6 tablespoon shelled broad beans)
  • 1 garlic clove very finely minced
  • grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  • 2 tablespoon ricotta (optional)

For pesto:

  • 1 bunch of fresh basil leaves, about 4 tablespoon
  • 2 tablespoon chopped almonds or pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon EVO oil

If you buy fresh fava beans on the pod, you will need about  1/2 kg (1 lb) per person. Blanch broad beans in boiling hot water for 5 min or until some of the skins start to split. Drain and refresh under cold water. Remove shells. This will take some time but brings the dish from ordinary to quite amazing. Reserve.

To make the pesto I just blitz all ingredients in a bowl using an immersion blender. If you are a purist however, please make it with mortar and pestle. Make sure to make the pesto at the last possible moment before using it in the sauce. This way the pesto does not oxidize and as a consequence all flavor is retained. While making the pesto, cook the tagliolini in plenty salted boiling water according to package instructions.

In a pan large enough to hold all the pasta, saute 1 clove garlic in olive oil until fragrant, about 30 sec. Add broad beans and cook briefly to infuse them in the garlic oil. Take off the heat and add 2 tablespoon pesto and two tablespoon ricotta (if using).

Drain the pasta reserving 1/3 cup pasta water. Transfer the pasta in the pan that holds the sauce on high heat. Add some pasta water and quickly stir so that the sauce is partly absorbed by the pasta. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese.

Serves 2

the delciate texture of egg tagliolini is perfect for this light sauce

the delicate texture of egg tagliolini is perfect for this fragrant sauce

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,218 other followers