I “sure like to ball” just like Miss Molly in the song above and try and maintain a cheerful outlook about having to cook something even when needs must I do it in a hurry. That’s when the idea of a pasta e fagioli sounds very ‘jolly’ indeed.
There are numerous bean and pasta recipes all over Italy, just as there are more than one bean variety. Today I used cannellini beans, pre-cooked and shop bought.
There is some garlic, some tomato paste in a tube and … some coriander. I once had the good fortune to taste pasta e fagioli prepared by Alessandro Ferracci (son of Anna Dente and not too shabby himself a chef) and the ‘secret’ ingredient was, yes, coriander. Strange, eh?, not something one would associate with the environs of Rome. Here are two jars of cannellini beans and a packet of dry “maltagliati” kind of pasta, very suitable for this recipe. And there is a chilli flake hiding behind one of the jars. Drain the beans and rinse them under running water. Sauté some garlic with some chilli flakes.Then add a teaspoon of whole coriander. Cook until the garlic turns golden.
Add a good squeeze of the tomato paste (about 1 tablespoon) and the equivalent of 1 jar of cannellini beans. Mix and cook over a fairly high heat for about 1 minute or so – the idea is to get the cannellini to acquire some taste. Sprinkle some salt over them. Then add some boiling water. Cook for about 1 minute over a high heat. Remove from heat and process with an immersion blender. Taste and add more salt if necessary.Have your maltagliati pasta ready — I was cooking for two people.
Return the puréed bean onto the heat and when it starts simmering, add the pasta. Stir and mix well. Add more boiling water, enough to cover it all. Here it is simmering.Now add the other jar of cannellini beans and 1 sage leaf. Mix and Stir.
This is not at all a rule but I think that parsley stems are a good addition to any soup, so I added a little bit too. And simmer it all until the pasta is ready. Cooked, in other words. Switch off heat and drizzle some olive oil and add a twist of white pepper (if you want to, you don’t have to). Remove from source of heat and plate up. I added a bit of green something or other (mint, I believe) just for embellishment.And now … contrary to the rest of Europe and North America, this kind of dish is not eaten piping hot in Italy. It is best left to cool a little — that way it tastes better and it doesn’t scald the roof of your mouth! That said, if piping hot is how you like it – by all means serve it as you prefer.
If you liked, you could add a little grated pecorino over it.
As you can see, it is a very easy dish to prepare and takes hardly any time at all. It is hearty, it is filling and it hits the spot when you’re hungry, want something comforting and want it fast!
Good golly Miss Molly … eat your pasta e fagioli …