I loved this recipe. If you had the beans prepped already or used canned beans, it would make for a quick (but utterly satisfying) weeknight meal or an elegant dish to share with friends. The process of mixing the starchy bean and pasta water with the parmesan in the warm pan at the end is pure pleasure, as you watch it transform into a slightly creamy decadent sauce. The only thing I did to amp up this wonderful Saveur (by way of David Tanis) recipe was add a vinegar-based pistou (think pesto meats chimichurri) to bring a piquancy that brightens this hearty dish of beans and pasta. You want this pesto to be loose so you can drizzle it, so I leave out the cheese. — Jaclyn Coleman
Pasta e Fagioli with Parsley-Vinegar Pistou
Recipe adapted from Saveur by Jaclyn Coleman.
For the pasta:
- 2 cups dried cranberry beans, soaked overnight and drained (or two cans prepared beans, rinsed and drained)
- 6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
- 4 oz. pancetta, cut crosswise into 1⁄4-inch pieces
- 1⁄4 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 oz. Community Grains Whole Wheat Pasta, such as Torchiette
- 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for serving
- 1⁄4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tsp minced rosemary
For the pistou:
- 1 cup “packed” fresh parsley leaves, about 2 cups loosely packed
- 4 oz pine nuts or walnuts
- 1 medium garlic clove
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon juice (optional)
- If using dried beans, soak beans overnight. (If using freshly shelled beans, such as found at the farmers market, you can skip the soak). Drain and combine the beans with 6 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook the beans until tender, about 1 hour. Drain the beans and reserve 1 cup of their cooking liquid.
- Make the pistou: Place parsley in the base of a food processor fitted with a blade and pulse 5 or 6 times. Add nuts and garlic. Pulse to combine. Slowly add olive oil until a consistent sauce is formed. Add vinegar and lemon juice if using and blend until well-incorporated with an even consistency. Season with salt. You should be able to drizzle it, so add more liquid if it’s too thick. You can save pesto in fridge up to a week covered tightly with plastic.
- Rinse and wipe out the pan and return to medium heat. Heat the olive oil, add the onions, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the pancetta, chile flakes, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the pancetta is just cooked but not crisp, about 5 minutes. Gently stir in the beans and their cooking liquid and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a pan of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and reserve 1⁄2 cup pasta water. Stir the pasta and 1⁄4 cup of the pasta water into the beans and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes (add the remaining pasta water if needed to make a creamy sauce). Stir in the pecorino, parsley, and rosemary and serve with more pecorino on the side.