The pasta e fagioli it’s a simple but surprisingly good pasta dish all over Italy. Find out how to make it properly, its different regional variations and why it is an interesting dish from the nutritional point of view.
Pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans) is a very popular dish that can be found in different versions throughout Italy.
Each region has its own way of doing it, and everybody claim it to be the “real one” or the original.
There is debate amongst Italian regarding whether or not to use pork rind or if onion should be preferred to garlic and on, and on…
The answer is that there isn’t a best version and most of it is down to personal preferences. However, some common patterns show what it should contain and what not, based on centuries of trial and error.
The recipe that I propose here is the Neapolitan version, with a personal twist. But don’t worry – I’ll suggest variations and tips at the end, so it can be used as a starting point for further culinary experiments.
Nutritional info & why this is a very interesting recipe
From the nutritional point of view, this is a very healthy dish which provides a complete protein profile.
Beans proteins and grains or cereals proteins are incomplete on their own but when combining them you obtain a source of protein that contains all 9 essential amino acids.
Also due to its content in fibre and carbohydrates it can be definitely eaten as a one-plate meal.
Simple, cheap and easy
It’s a very satisfying plate, with few inexpensive ingredients – beans, pasta, garlic, celery, tomatoes, red chilli and olive oil and that can be made very easily.
The only thing to remember when starting from dried beans is to allow a soaking time of between 10 to 12 hours. Just leave it overnight.
Didn’t soak or no time for cooking? Just use canned beans.
You can make this recipe with canned or pre-cooked beans. This way you’ll be able to make it in roughly 20 – 25 mins. Just reduce simmering to 5 minutes at step 3, below.
Is pasta e fagioli a Vegan / Vegetarian dish?
Yes, in its original form this is a 100% plant based dish. Sometimes, and in different variations of the plate it includes pork rind but the recipe I am showing you here is the basic Neapolitan one which doesn’t have it.
Pasta e Fagioli
- One medium to large pot
- Immersion blender
- 165 gr dried beans
- 400 gr short pasta pasta mista, mafalde corte, ditalini, tubetti
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 stalk celery
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 red chilli or just black pepper
- 4 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- Brown the garlic and the diced celery in the olive oil in a pot. Once the garlic has browned remove it from the pot.
- Add the beans, the diced tomatoes, cover with water and bring to a boil.
- After simmering for 45 minutes, blend with an immersion blender about a quarter of the beans.
- Add the sliced red chilli (or black pepper) and the salt.
- Add the pasta and if necessary more boiling water to cover it.
- Cook the pasta for about 2/3 of the cooking time (i.e if 10 minutes on the package, cook for 7 minutes). Then turn off the stove and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Place into bowls and serve.
Pasta e fagioli vs pasta fazool
Pasta e fagioli is the generic italian name, whereas “pasta e fasule” is the Neapolitan version – which has been phonetically transliterated as “fazool” in English. There are other versions, like northern Italy’s “pasta e fasoi”.
Can you freeze pasta e fagioli?
No. If you really want to freeze something, just prepare the base without the pasta and freeze that. When you want to make the dish, just defrost the base, bring it to a boil and then cook the pasta in it.
Is pasta e fagioli a soup?
Not really, it should have a creamy consistence, not too liquid.
What type of pasta?
Short pasta (pasta corta): pasta mista, mafalde corte, ditalini, tubetti, tubettoni, small shell pasta.
What kind of beans?
Cannellini, navy beans (white beans), borlotti or kidney beans will work better in this plate.
What doesn’t go in pasta e fagioli?
Definitely not cheese!