Italian Food and Wine – Pasta e Fagioli

pasta e fagioliPasta, Pasta, Pasta - Fagioli, Fagioli, Fagioli

For all practical purposes the summer is over, and some of us start thinking of the foods and wines that warm us on a chilly day. There is one dish that every Italian thinks of, Pasta e Fagioli. Yes, just about everyone. What is interesting, is that every cook, household has their own version. It must be understood that whatever dish of pasta and beans is put on your table, it is the best in the world. Yes, in the world. Since, for pasta e fagioli, we include all the families that migrated from the boot to different parts of the world.

There is a little controversy, is Pasta e Fagioli a soup or a pasta? Most folks would agree that it is a minestra – dense soup, which some folks may consider a pasta dish. Then there are those folks who will tell you that, if you like pasta and beans, that is because you never ate Polenta e Fagioli, or those who say that you never ate rice and beans.

My three favorite dishes are my mother-in-law’s Neapolitan dish, my father’s version and Mrs. Regazzi’s Pasta e Fagioli.

My mother-in-law would cook whatever vegetable she had in the house, in broth, add cooked beans, canned or home cooked dry beans. Sometimes she would use two different kinds of beans and Ditalini pasta. My father-in-law would drink Vino di Tavalo with his pasta and beans.

My father would add carrots, celery and onions to the broth and cook them al dente. Then he would cut up spinach or swiss chard or both and add them to the pot. He would then break spaghetti into two- inch pieces and add it to the soup. He would pour a can of cannellini beans into his concoction. When all was cooked he would drizzle a little red wine in the soup, and top it with grated Parmigiano, and would drink a dry rose’ wine with his minestra.

Mrs. Regazzi would make a true pasta dish. She would make a light tomato sauce, cook dried borlotti beans (cranberry beans) and make fresh tagliatelle. The beans did not overpower the dish. They were more of a condiment than a main ingredient. I recall that there was always a basket of Chianti on the table.

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