Pasta e Fagioli

Marica cooks Wednesday is coming up! And I am tired of making my old standbys. So I went in search of something new. This grandma is also making a couple of adaptations. I’ll be using cannellini beans rather than cranberry (because I have dried cannellinis), and ziti rather than tubetti pasta. We do have 2 cups of Jeff Smith’s beef stock in the freezer! I think we made it last summer–you know, that time of year when you walk outside in shorts and a t-shirt. Remember?

A dish of pasta and beans is hearty, to say the least. It is very simple food but also comforting and satisfying. There are as many variations on this dish as there are grandmas in Italy.

The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Italian: New and Old Worlds, Simplified for the American Kitchen, by Jeff Smith and Craig Wollam (1993)


Serves 6-8

2 C cranberry beans, combined in a 6-quart pot with 6 C cold water, brought to a boil, covered, flame turned off. “leave the pot covered on the very burner you used,” allowed to stand 1 hour, beans drained and return to pot
½ C dry white wine
2 C beef stock (preferably Jeff Smith’s—see recipes in Basics section)
4½ C chicken stock
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 C tubetti pasta, “not cooked!”
½ C (2 oz) grated Parmesan cheese, plus more “garnish”
Chopped parsley, “garnish”
Extra virgin olive oil, “garnish”

Add wine, beef stock and chicken stock to soaked drained beans in pot, bring to a boil, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Strain out half of the beans, purée, then return to pot. Add garlic, tomato paste, parsley and raw pasta and simmer gently uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes or until pasta is very tender and soup is thick, stirring regularly to prevent pasta from sticking to bottom of pot. Stir in ½ C Parmesan cheese. Garnish with parsley, extra virgin olive oil and additional grated cheese.


“This is a very clever way to use up leftovers. We had this dish in a very tiny restaurant in Modena, and even though it was indeed made of leftovers, we paid plenty for our lunch! I very much enjoy this kind of peasant cooking.”

Makes 8 patties

2 C Pasta e Fagioli (from above), “use leftovers that are cold from the refrigerator”
4 Tbsp flour, plus additional flour “for dredging”
Olive oil for pan-frying

Mix together Pasta e Fagioli and 4 Tbsp flour, form mixture into patties “2½ inches in diameter by ¼ inch thick.” Roll patties in additional flour and pan-fry in a nonstick frying pan with “a little” olive oil “until nicely browned on both sides.” Remove and drain on paper towels.


“Serve the fried patties with Fresh Tomato Sauce Sicilian ladled over the top.”

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