Wednesday, January 13, 2010

beans, beans

Wednesday: Pasta Fazool; Garlic Bread

I love beans, so I was excited when I started hearing about Rancho Gordo and their Heirloom Beans cookbook. I gave myself the gift of a whole bunch of cookbooks this year, and am just now starting to try out recipes from them.

There are a few farms that have dried beans at the farmer's market we go to (though not the heirloom varieties Rancho Gordo specializes in, sadly), so I substituted a non-heirloom but relatively fresh dried cannellini for the more exciting marrow beans called for in the recipe. I was amazed at how quickly the beans cooked up, and at how creamy they were. I'm planning on making similar substitutions as I try out the other recipes in the book (unless some enterprising local farmer wants to work with more heirloom bean varieties... hint, hint).

For the garlic bread, I pulled out my trusty copy of the Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen Cookbook (which I turn to every time I look at my other cookbooks and think "Help! I can't be the only person on earth who needs a recipe for this!"). They recommend slathering your bread with butter and chopped garlic, plus a little oregano (I also added some salt), wrapping tightly in foil, and baking at 375F for 15 minutes. I was feeling tired, and out of sorts, so I didn't really appreciate this meal quite the way I probably should have, but it was very good.

Pasta Fazool
adapted from the
Heirloom Beans cookbook
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 4 C chicken broth
  • some oregano, fresh (or, if you don't have any, some dried - this is what I did...)
  • 1/2 lb cannellini, marrow, or cellini beans, soaked and drained (they recommend just starting the soak the morning you'll be cooking, as fresh(er) dried beans only need about 4-6 hours soaking time)
  • 1 14-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 1 C tiny pasta shells, tubes, or orzo
  • 1/4 C chopped parsley
  • fresh parmesan to grate over pasta for serving
Saute the bacon in your soup pot over medium heat, until the fat is rendered, ~ 10 min. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain. Pour off most of the bacon fat and add the olive oil. Over medium heat, saute the onion, celery, garlic, and carrot until soft and fragrant, also about 10 min. Add broth, oregano, and beans. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Continued simmering until the beans are tender, about 45 min if using "fresh" beans and about twice that for the grocery store variety.

When the beans are done, add the tomatoes. Taste, and add salt & pepper as needed. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the pasta. Cook until the pasta is al dente, adding water if necessary. Stir frequently, as the mixture should now be pretty thick and will burn if you let it.

Once the pasta's cooked, add the bacon and the parsley. Stir, taste, and add more salt and/or pepper if needed. Let sit for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld, then serve sprinkled with Parmesan and maybe a drizzle of olive oil.
serves 4

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