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Pasta e fagiole
Pasta e Fagiole (Pasta with Beans, Version III)
Originated from: Casacalenda, Molise, Italy
Occasion: Any time
Contributed by: Mary Melfi (her mother's recipe)

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1 package of tubetti (450 g)

For cooking pasta

A big pot of water
1/2 tablespoon salt

For sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1/2 cup dried white cannelloni beans or white pea beans (or 1 can of cooked bean, 19 oz)
1/4 cup water in which beans were soaked in
salt to taste
about 4 cups home-made Italian-style tomato sauce


To prepare the beans

Step 1. Place dried white beans in water and soak overnight.

Step 2. Cook soaked beans for about half an hour to an hour (the amount of time depends on the size of the beans).

Step 3. Drain the beans, reserving the liquid.

Obviously, if one is using canned beans, steps 1 and 2 are not followed.

To make the sauce:

1. Fry sliced onions in olive oil.

2. Add home-made tomato sauce to the onions.

3. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Add to the tomato sauce the beans and about 1/4 cup of water in which the beans were cooked in (The amount of water depends on personal preference, some people might actually not want to use any at all).

5. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

To prepare the pasta:

1. Bring water to boil in a large pot.

2. Add tubetti.

3. Cook until the pasta is tender (about 8 minutes).

3. Drain.

4. Place the cooked tubetti in a large bowl. Add about a cup of sauce. Toss.

5. Place the tossed pasta in individual dishes. Add more sauce to each dish.

6. Serve warm.


Personally I find this version of "pasta e fagiole" rather unappetizing. Obviously, the quality of the red sauce makes a huge difference to the taste of the dish. Adding fresh oregano or basil to the pasta dish will enhance the taste. However, the original recipe (according to my mother) did not use any herbs or spices, but that's just my mother speaking. According to my aunt, Zia Rosina, herbs were plentiful in Molise, and were regularly used in anything and everything. My aunt insists that everyone had access to oregano, bay leaf, rosemary and mint -- in the summer, the herbs were used fresh, in the winter, they were used dried. So for those individuals who liked their dishes to be flavored with herbs there were more than enough. I suspect the dishes that were made at my aunt's house when she was growing up in the 1930s were a lot tastier than at my mother's house, possibly because my aunt's parents owned more property than my mother's parents and so there was more of everything, including herbs. At my maternal grandparents' home, everything was in short supply. Generally, "pasta e fagiole" was done in the middle of winter when supplies were low, so my maternal grandmother who had very little in her storage room had to be very careful as not to exhaust what little she had. On the other hand, she may not have been an inspired cook (Hard to say). Nowadays, of course, most North Americans of Italian descent, make very fancy types of minestrone, adding all sorts of vegetables and meats (chicken, beef, veal whatever!) to the dish. However, as no two original Italian recipes for the same dish are alike -- one simply has to adjust one's recipes to accommodate one's own tastes. Photo: Mary Melfi.

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