My mother calls this the perfect food. It has everything you need in it, protein, starch and vegetable. (I guess that could be argued, tomato..vegetable or fruit? I grew up with it as a veggie.) It's fast, easy and delicious. By the way, don't forget to top with grated cheese, my family favorite is Pecorino Romano, and crushed red pepper.
I thought of my beautiful Auntie Anne (her given name ... Amedia) when I made this the other day. It was my first time making it gluten free, and I hadn't eaten pasta fagioli (we, being stock from Italian peasants pronounce it, "pasta fa-zule"). I wasn't sure that it was going to be the same. I get nervous making 'soul' food gluten free. I still want that taste connection to my past, and my heritage.
Auntie Anne passed away last spring. She was 88 years old. She was up and about and cooking 2 weeks prior to her death. Cooking was her passion. She would read cookbooks like novels, and could 'see' if a recipe would work. With her being older, I was surprised she wasn't skeptical about me eating gluten free, rather, she was fascinated by it, and completely curious. If it dealt with food, she was there. She was the one that taught me to make my own Italian sausage, fast and easy, and gluten free, since I was so nervous about going to the Italian butchers and figuring out what was gluten free. (Back when I was new to being gluten free, now I could easily have that conversation.) And I still will make the sausage the way she told me.
I wish she could taste my pasta and beans, one of her favorite meals to make, and eat. I wish she could taste and explore all the really cool things I have discovered, among them..teff and sweet sorghum flours, the oat pie crust I made, and get her ideas about Italian recipes that are gluten free. And to just sit there, after a family meal and chat about everything.
So, here is a taste of my family and heritage, spelled the way we say it.
2 cans cannolini beans
1 can 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups elbows or small pasta, cooked al dente (I used Tinkyada)
1 chopped onion
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped or put through garlic press
1 can chicken broth, water, or reserved pasta liquid
Cook onion and garlic in olive oil over medium to low heat. Cook until soft, not browned. Add tomatoes, beans with liquid, and chicken broth or water to thin to desired consistency. Simmer 20 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and basil to taste. Add pasta.
Don't for get to top with grated cheese and crushed red pepper.
This gets better the day after, but don't forget, the pasta will absorb a bunch of the liquid, don't be surprised.
And, big tip here in Italian cooking, a lot of the time we use the cooking liquid in the pasta to thin the sauce to the right consistency. It adds a whole heck of a lot more than just water.