Pasta e fagioli
The other ingredients can typically include pasta, garlic, onion, broth, lard, olive oil, celery, and, depending on the recipe, sage, thyme, parsley, marjoram, pepper, tomato, ham or bacon. In the past it was a typical winter soup, healthy, economical and complete, used as a main dish and replacing the meat as a source of a significant amount of protein.
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In Veneto it was often enriched with some pork bone or meat, salted and sometimes smoked. The addition of potatoes, in the tradition linked to the need to save beans, gave a good creaminess, while the celery gives it a stronger taste.
Pasta and beans will keep well in the fridge for at least 3 days, and in Naples it is very popular to eat it arrepusata, that is, passed in a pan the next day.
- The flavor of fresh beans is definitely different from the dried beans we eat in the winter, since fresh legumes do not need soaking and cook in a shorter time.
- The "pasta e fagioli" must not be too dry, or too "soupy", and the pasta should be cooked along with the beans, thus retaining all the starch that gives a thick, creamy sauce.
- As an alternative to lard, chicken or vegetable broth can be used, the "soffritto" with chopped herbs may be tinged with white wine, at the end chopped fresh rosemary and a sprinkling of pecorino may be added.
- The favorite pasta in many Italian versions is the "ditali", but it is also a dish good for recycling, using all the leftovers of pasta (but with approximately same cooking time), coarsely chopped pasta, or, if you want a really divine dish, hand-made pasta without eggs.
- For a faster cooking, a pressure pot may be used, or good-quality canned beans (but it will never be the same as slow cooking!)