Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pasta e Fagioli

Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant is a recent addition to my cookbook family and has some great vegetarian recipes. Being a vegetarian through middle school, high school, and most of college probably influenced how I learned to cook as well as my fascination with food. Vegetarian meals are still some of my favorites, although I do particularly love bacon. On a chilly fall night I could think of nothing better than to make a warm one pot meal. Searching the cookbook for something delicious I found the recipe for Pasta e Fagioli, which is similar to a stewy minestrone, a lovely pasta and bean dish. Working with the ingredients I had in the house I came up with a similar version of their recipe, but I worked with the ingredients I had in the house. So feel free to experiment!

Something that I find very interesting about Italian food is how influenced it is by New World domesticates. Many of the main ingredients in this dish would not have been available in Italy prior to the European contact with the Americas. This is known as the Columbian Exchange and was the exchange and introduction of new species of plants and animals to and from the New World and the Old World. In this dish the tomatoes, zucchini, and beans are all originally from the Americas. It is almost impossible to imagine what Italian food would have been like without these crops.

Pasta a Fagioli
Adapted from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant

1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
3 carrots, sliced
2 cloves of garlic or granulated
2 zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 can of diced tomatoes, with juices
1 small can of tomato sauce
1 can of kidney beans  (Cannelini beans would be perfect here as well)
1 can of pinto beans
Fresh parsley
Fresh basil
Olive oil
Crushed red pepper
Dried oregano
Salt and pepper
8 oz. of pasta (I used macaroni)
Water to thin if desired
Parmesan cheese

1) Heat olive oil in dutch oven, add onion, celery, carrots, garlic, salt, pepper, and spices, cook until slightly softened

2) Add zucchini and cook until softened

3) Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beans, then taste and flavor with more seasonings if desired, also adding water to thin slightly
4) Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente
5) Simmer stew for 25 minutes, uncovered, add basil and parsley towards the end
6) Add pasta and serve into bowls, garnish with Parmesan and enjoy!

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