Pasta and beans, or pasta e fagioli, is a quick and easy, inexpensive, nutritious and delicious meal that the entire family will enjoy. Children especially love it. Don’t let it’s simplicity fool you; this is an authentic Italian recipe for pasta and beans.
My daughter has been pestering me for days to post this recipe as her friends want to make it. Apparently, they tasted it when she brought it to school and it was a huge hit.
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Pasta and beans is a typical Italian peasant dish: pasta (making it soupy requires less pasta) with no meat, (because beans were cheaper and supplied the protein). However, it is so tasty, with homemade tomato sauce and REAL grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese–pure comfort food and perfect in winter! Don’t think you’re saving money if you buy Parmesan without the rind; without it, there’s no guarantee it actually is the real deal!
This is a fabulously easy meal because it only contains three ingredients. It’s ready in the time it takes to boil pasta. Bonus: it’s also vegetarian, and vegan, for anyone on those diets.
I’ve been asked, so I’m adding a link here for the Parmigiano Bowl in the photos however, I paid under $10 for mine at a shop.
I never measure any of the ingredients when I make pasta and beans, so please don’t focus on the importance of the measurements. More or less of any of the ingredients won’t make a huge difference. In fact you may like it more or less soupy (adjust how much water you leave in the pot), or saucy, or with extra beans. You should be able to cook this without measuring anything after making it a couple of times–it’s that simple.
I have seen so many American versions of this dish which cook the pasta in the sauce. They also add tons of other ingredients and make it so complicated. Just know that these are NOT authentic Italian ways of making pasta and beans. If you see a laundry list of ingredients in any “Italian recipe”, run.
NOTE: you can also make a “dry” version, by draining all the water, and adding the beans and sauce. However, 8 ounces of dry pasta won’t feed four, you’ll have to add at least 4 more ounces of pasta (3/4 of a 1lb box).
Pasta and Beans (Pasta e Fagioli)
- 8 ounces bite size pasta (tubetti, small shells, broken spaghetti, linguine etc. can all be used) I use De Cecco for best results
- 8 ounces (one cup) cooked beans (any kind of bean will do, including garbanzo; I used Borlotti)
- 4 ounces meatless pasta sauce (1/2 cup) more or less depending on your taste of course homemade is best, but a good quality vegetarian sauce from a jar will work, just don’t tell me :(
- Parmigiano Reggiano, grated, to serve (please don’t use a lower quality cheese-read my rant below)
Cook the pasta until it is almost al dente (a little hard, not completely cooked) making sure there is plenty of water in the pot. Remove some water, but reserve to use later, if needed. I usually try to make the water level with the pasta, as in the photo below. Add the beans, and stir to heat through (keep the burner on).
Next, add the pasta sauce. If it’s too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.
Stir thoroughly, and just let the pasta start to come to a boil, then remove from heat. Ladle the pasta and beans into serving bowls, add grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and dinner is served!
I told you it was easy.
Just a fair warning: everyone seems to want second and third helpings of pasta and beans, so you’d better make extra. If not, you may have lots of empty bowls and sad faces (especially applies to the little ones).
And now for my rant~
The Difference in Using Quality Ingredients
I cannot emphasize how important it is to use good quality ingredients! Friends often tell me their dish didn’t taste like mine. However, after a couple of questions, I realize they substituted inferior quality ingredients. This is exactly the reason it didn’t turn out as they had expected.
For example, when making this pasta and beans recipe, if you use a no-name pasta, “famous name” tomato sauce and a can of store bought beans, I can guarantee it will not taste nearly as good. I know I’d absolutely hate it made this way.
I use De Cecco pasta (my favorite brand), and cook dried beans myself. My favorite are Borlotti or cranberry Beans which you can find online and at many bulk item stores. I make homemade pasta sauce using extra virgin olive oil, tomato puree from Italy. You can find this puree at Cost Plus World Market and Eataly. I also use fresh garlic, parsley, basil etc.
Trust me, every little ingredient makes a difference. Okay, I’m done–I feel much better now!
- Parmigiano Reggiano, grated, to serve (please don’t use a lesser quality cheese-read my rant below)
- 4 ounces pasta sauce (1/2 cup) more or less depending on your taste of course homemade is best, but the jarred kind will work
- 8 ounces (one cup) cooked beans (any kind of bean will do, including garbanzo)
- use De Cecco for best results
- 8 ounces bite size pasta (tubetti, small shells, broken spaghetti, linguine etc. can all be used)
- Boil the pasta according to the directions on the package until it is almost al dente (a little hard, not completely cooked). Remove some water, (but reserve to use later, if needed); I usually try to make the water level with the pasta.
- Now add the pasta sauce. If its too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.
- Stir thoroughly, and just let the pasta start to come to a boil, then remove from heat.Ladle into serving bowls, add grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and dinner is served!
I cannot emphasize how important it is to use GOOD QUALITY ingredients! People often tell me their dish didn’t taste like mine, and after a few questions, I realize they substituted inferior quality ingredients, which is exactly why it didn’t turn out as they had expected. For example, when making this recipe, if you use a no-name pasta, big-name canned tomato sauce and a can of store brand beans, I can GUARANTEE it will not taste good. I use DeCecco pasta (my favorite brand), cook dried beans myself (I love Borlotti/Cranberry Beans) and make homemade pasta sauce using extra virgin olive oil, tomato puree from Italy, and fresh parsley, basil etc. You can find my Quick Tomato sauce recipe on www.christinascucina.com
Trust me, every little ingredient makes a difference.
Serving Size:1 bowl
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 507 Total Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 0mg Carbohydrates: 95g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 0g Protein: 23g
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City Hall, downtown Los Angeles