I had to try it.
I was a prep cook at an Italian restaurant when I was in high school. I was the one who diced, chopped, cleaned, and got things rolling for the chef who came in a few hours later. Out of all of the dishes I prepped, the pasta fagioli (or pasta e fagioli) was my favorite. Maybe it was because it was the easiest dish to make, or maybe it was because I always treated myself to a delicious bowl when it was done. Regardless, it was the best dish on the menu. I suppose that’s why, when I saw Stanley Tucci making it recently, I was immediately transported back to that kitchen, where my love of pasta fagioli began.
What Is Pasta Fagioli?
"Pasta e fagioli" (often shortened to pasta fagioli) in Italian translates to “pasta and beans.” It’s a humble dish that relies on pantry staples to create something nourishing and satisfying. While it’s simple in nature, it doesn’t lack flavor. The use of aromatics like onions and garlic start the dish off on a flavorful note. The broth, marinara, and Parmesan add depth and a satisfying touch of umami. The addition of beans, pasta, and kale ensures that every bowl is hearty and comforting.
Stanley Tucci’s Pasta Fagioli
The version I made for the restaurant utilized time to cultivate and develop flavor. I spent hours nurturing the large, beat-up pot that we only used for pasta fagioli. Many of us don’t have time to stand at the stove like I did, but luckily, with Tucci’s version, you don’t have to. He utilizes canned beans, store-bought broth or stock, and jarred marinara sauce to keep things both easy and flavorful. In fact, his use of marinara sauce is the ultimate hack, since prepared sauces are come fully seasoned. That means fewer ingredients for you!
Tips for Making Pasta Fagiloi
Tip 1: Buy good marinara. Since this is one of the biggest flavor boosters of the dish, I recommend buying a marinara sauce you love. Choose one that’s simple when it comes to ingredients. A basic marinara sauce is all you need.
Tip 2: Cook the pasta separately. Tucci smartly keeps the cooked pasta and soup separate until serving. Adding the cooked pasta to the soup would only cook it more, causing it to swell and soften and soak up all of the soup liquid. In other words, it would leave you with an unappetizing pasta dish. Keeping things separate also allows everyone to choose how much pasta they’d like. If there are leftovers, store them separately too. You’ll be glad you did.
Tip 3: Add a rind. Tucci’s original recipe doesn’t call for a Parmesan rind, but it’s my secret for any soup since it adds a perfect touch of saltiness and umami. Let it sit in the soup while it’s cooking and pull it out just before serving.
Stanley Tucci’s Pasta Fagioli Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Adapted from: Stanley Tucci’s Pasta Fagioli recipe
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained, and rinsed
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 1/2 cups (about one 24-ounce jar) marinara sauce
1 Parmesan rind plus 1/2 cup grated Parmesan for serving
6 cups stemmed, chopped Tuscan kale
1 pound small pasta, such as ditalini
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and black pepper, to taste
crushed red pepper, to taste
Heat oil in a large pot set over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onion and garlic are softened, about 8 minutes.
Add beans, broth, marinara, and Parmesan rind. Increase heat to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Season with 2 teaspoons salt. Add kale and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Use tongs to transfer kale to the soup, reserving blanching water. Return water to a boil, add pasta, and cook following package directions. Drain pasta and portion among serving bowls.
Stir vinegar into the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper then ladle over pasta. Garnish with grated Parmesan and crushed red pepper, if using.
Read the original article on All Recipes.