Pasta e Fagioli
1 cup dried cannellini or Great Northern beans, 6 ounces, soaked overnight
6 cups cold water
1 bay leaf
2 fresh sage leaves
1 fresh marjoram or oregano sprig
2 fresh winter savory or thyme sprigs
Salt and pepper
1/4 pound green beans, about 1 1/2 cups, trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded, with their juice or 2
16 ounce cans tomatoes with juice
1/4 pound fusilli or penne
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, diced, about 2 cups
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium-size red or yellow bell pepper; thinly sliced, about 1 cup
1/2 pound sunburst squash or zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges or cut
diagonally into 1/2-inch slices, about 2 cups
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil, about 20 leaves
Grated Parmesan cheese
Drain and rinse the soaked cannellini beans. Pour the beans into
a medium-size saucepan, cover with the water, and add the bay leaf
and fresh herbs. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook,
uncovered, at a low boil until they are tender yet still retain
their shape, about 30 to 35 minutes. Taste the beans to see that
they are done. If their skins are still a little tough, cook them
a little longer. Leave the beans in their broth, and, when cool,
remove the herbs and bay leaf.
While the dried beans are cooking, bring a large pot of water to
a boil and add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the green beans. Cook them
for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender yet still bright green. Scoop
the beans out of the water with a strainer, rinse under cold water,
drain, and set aside. Keep the water boiling.
Cut the tomatoes into large pieces and reserve their juice.
Cook the pasta in the boiling water for 7 to 8 minutes, until just
tender. (It will continue to cook while it stews with the beans
and vegetables.) Drain the pasta in a colander, rinse under cold
water, and shake off the excess water. Toss with 1 tablespoon of
the olive oil to keep it from sticking together.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a wide skillet; add
the onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, a few pinches of pepper, and the
dried herbs. Saute over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the onions
begin to release their juices. Add the garlic and peppers and
saute until the onions and peppers are soft, another 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the summer squash and saute for 1 minute, just long enough to
heat it through. Stir in the tomatoes, the beans and their broth,
the fusilli, and the basil. Season with as much as 1 teaspoon
salt, then add pepper to taste. Cook, uncovered, over medium-low-heat
for 20 minutes. This dish should be brothy, so add a little water
or stock if more broth is needed. Add the green just before serving.
Serve in warm bows and pass the Parmesan cheese.