Monday, 21 March 2011

This week's lunch: Pasta e fagioli

Spring in Berlin is a topsy turvy affair. A few days of stunning warmth followed by another few days of grey wet cold. Last week it was more of the grey and i chose to make this recipe for my week's lunches.

I used the recipe from one of my favourite books Twelve by Tessa Kiros. I've been slowly building up my collection of her books. Each one is a treasure trove of gorgeous photos, mingled with personal recollections and reflections, and an abundance of great recipes.

This is one of those dishes that is a store cupboard staple, using ingredients that I usually have to hand: beans, pasta, tomato paste, carrots, celery, onions and garlic. I cut the recipe below in half when i made it, and it made 4 lunches worth.

Pasta e fagioli serves 6
from Twelve by Tessa Kiros

300g dried cannellini or other white beans, soaked overnight in cold water
1 medium carrot peeled and chopped
1 stalk of celery, trimmed and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
200g ditalini or other similar small pasta
6 Tbs olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 small dried red chilli, crumbled
1 Tbsp tomato paste
Extra virgin olive oil, to serve

  1. Drain the soaked beans. Put them into a saucepan, cover abundantly with cold water and bring to the boil. Skim the surface of any scum, lower the heat and add the carrot, celery and onion. Cook for about 1-1/2 hours or until the beans are soft. Add more water during cooking time if necessary to keep the beans well covered and, towards the end, season with salt and pepper.

  2. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water, following the packet instructions. Drain and put into a bowl with a little olive oil to prevent the pasta sticking together.

  3. Heat the olive oil on a medium heat in a separate large pot. Add the garlic, the rosemary, the chilli and the tomato paste. Saute gently to flavour the oil until the garlic is lightly golden. Remove the garlic and rosemary branches and discard.

  4. Pass half of the cooked beans through the fine-holed disc of a food mill, or puree in a blender and add to the saucepan with the flavoured oil. Add the whole beans as well and about 1 ltr of their cooking water. Return to the heat and simmer for a few more minutes to mix the flavours./li>
  5. Add the cooked pasta and stir through. It should have the consistency of a thick, creamy soup. add a little more hot water if it seems too thick. Serve hot, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

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