Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)

It is possible to eat too much pizza. For me, at any rate.

On our last jaunt through Italy, I kept meaning to order something that wasn’t pizza and failing spectacularly. Every region has different specialty toppings! I might miss out on something!! But when my body finally said NO MORE, I went for Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and beans) instead. And my goodness, was it ever rewarding. Borlotti beans are the creamiest, most flavor-absorbing beans I’ve ever come across. I plan to try making it sometime with dried beans, but this canned version comes together in a flash.

100 g diced pancetta or bacon
2 T olive oil
1 large or 2 small yellow onions, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 c/100 ml white wine
1/4 t red chili flakes
1 large sprig fresh rosemary leaves
4-6 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1/2 t ground black pepper
4-5 c/1-1.25 L weak chicken broth
3 15 oz/400 g cans borlotti (cranberry) beans, drained and rinsed
1 generous c/250 g short pasta
1 c/200 mL boiling water (optional)
1/2 c/100 g grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
1/4 c/50 g chopped parsley

Heat deep soup pot to medium heat. Add pancetta or bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until a little fat renders, then add olive oil. Turn heat to medium-low and add onions and garlic, stirring frequently until tender and translucent, but not browned. Add white wine, chili flakes, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and black pepper, stirring until wine is mostly evaporated. Add chicken broth and beans and allow mixture to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and turning down heat if necessary.

After 10 minutes, remove bay leaves and strip rosemary and thyme leaves from sprigs, returning the leaves to the pot. Either mash some of the beans with the back of a spoon or briefly use a stick blender, making sure to leave about half of the beans intact. Add the pasta (if there’s not enough liquid to cook the pasta or the soup is already too thick, add the extra water) and cook until almost done. Remove from heat and cover for 5 minutes. Serve with grated Pecorino or Parmesan and chopped parsley.

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part III: Exploring Rome on Foot and Departure

We walked our feet off in Rome. And why not? We had great weather the whole time we were there, and armed with some offline Google Maps marked with stuff we wanted to see or eat, we navigated on foot a lot after taking the Metro in from Cornelia to someplace more central, like Barberini or Spagna.

One glaring and super-convenient exception to that: our hotel offered a shuttle service from their reception to the entrance lines of the Vatican Museums. It was dirt cheap but classy door-to-door service — one of our favorite things about the hotel.1 Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part III: Exploring Rome on Foot and Departure

  1. Alas, they were pretty disappointing in some other ways. See the previous post. []

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part II: Sleeping and Eating in Rome

Arrival and Hotel

We drove in from Lago di Bolsena sometime around 7:00 p.m., expecting to have missed rush hour traffic. Whoops: we landed smack in the middle of it. A friendly taxi driver told us Italians start and finish their workday later, and consequently rush hour traffic runs later. We followed instructions from our GPS and rolled up to our hotel, the Church Palace, oohing and aahing at the gated entrance to the generous and secluded parking around, set several hundred yards back from the Via Aurelia. Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part II: Sleeping and Eating in Rome