Pasta e fagioli. This typical and traditional autumnal Roman dish will warm your bones and make the inevitable seasonal time change less painful, I promise. It’s perfect for those chilly nights, watching the fire dance and crackle. My favorite memories of pasta e fagioli go back to my grandparents. There was a running competition in my family about who made THE best pasta e fagioli. Some claimed that the pasta had to be a mix of different shapes, some claimed it to be a red based soup and other claimed it was white. What was consistent was that each one of the pasta e fagioli competitors thought that their pasta e fagioli was the best one.
For my Italian-Americans reading, you may know this dish better as ‘pasta fasul (fazool)’. This is because many of our ancestors who came from Italy were speaking in their regional dialects. For instance, someone from Naples with a Neapolitan dialect might say ‘fasule’ instead of the original Italian word, fagioli. Or someone from Sicily might say ‘fasola’ in their Sicilian dialect. Wherever you may be from, we can all agree that pasta e fagioli is universally delicious.
So whose pasta e fagioli is the best? Well, I went straight to the source. To Gianluca’s mother, Tiziana, who is Roman through and through. I must say, this pasta e fagioli is THE one. If only my grandparents could have had a taste, I’m sure they would agree.
Pasta e Fagioli con Tiziana
500g or 16oz bag of fagioli borlotti, borlotti beans – dried or frozen; fresh are best.
Half onion; quartered into chunks
2 carrots; chopped into rough chunks
2 stalks of celery; chopped into rough chunks
2 glasses of beef broth or stock of your liking
Peperoncino; spice to your liking and omit if you don’t like spice
1 clove of garlic; leave entire
Pork rind, chunks of prosciutto, speck, OR ham bone
Salt to taste
If your borlotti beans are dry, the night before soak them in water and a small spoonful of bi-carbonate.
Once the fresh/soaked beans are ready, cook in a normal pot or pressure cooker, together and in water with half an onion, carrot and celery until they boil. Do not let them get mushy. Once they are cooked, strain and throw the water away. Separate the beans in half. Leave half whole and pass the other half through a passer machine.
In the same pot, prepare a soffritto with olive oil, garlic and peperoncino. You are looking to infuse the olive oil with the aromatics of the garlic and peperoncino.
Throw in half the whole beans into the pot with your soffritto, onion, carrots, and celery. Next, add the broth and the pureed beans to the pot along with either some pork rinds, ham bone or pieces of ham or speck, or chunks of prosciutto. Add a bit of salt to taste. Cook for a short time until the soup becomes dense.
Once it’s ready, add the pasta and a bit of water. Cook the pasta together in the same pot with your beans until the pasta is ready.
Serve warm, but not too hot (that’s Tiziana’s strong suggestion).
I hope you’ve enjoyed this recipe as much as I do. Let us know how it went and send us your pictures of your pasta e fagioli to email@example.com.