After I wrote that I want to eat less meat, my friend Jen sent me her recipe for pasta e fagioli. We tried it recently, and really liked it! It’s easy to prepare and is quite versatile, as you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand, and you can even add broth to make it into a soup. On the picture, you can’t quite tell apart the pasta from the white beans, but let me assure you that the combination was very good. You could probably use red beans if you prefer, like in my green bean and pasta salad.
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced into half-moons
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 small zucchini, sliced into half moons (I didn’t use those)
½ lb spinach (or 5 leaves chard, coarsely chopped; I used leftover escarole)
3 cups chopped plum tomatoes with liquid (i.e., a 28-oz can)
15-oz can white kidney beans (with liquid)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
oregano, parsley or herbs of your choice
1 lb short chunky pasta (ziti, spirals or shells)
grated parmesan (optional)
Heat olive oil in a large pot. Sauté the onion, carrots, and celery for a few minutes. Add the garlic, zucchini, and any dried herbs you’re using. Sauté, stirring occasionally.
A few minutes later, add the spinach or chard and cook until just wilted. Mix in the tomatoes and white beans. Add water to make it the consistency you like. Flavor with parsley, fresh herbs and black pepper. Simmer gently for 15-20 minutes while you cook the pasta.
Cook the pasta al dente in a large pot of boiling water. Drain. Serve pasta topped with sauce (I mixed it all together). Top with grated parmesan if desired.