Monday, June 7, 2010

Pasta e Fagioli

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When I was growing up, my mother made pasta e fagioli with broad cannellini beans in a rich tomato gravy or ragu’ as we used to call it.  The pasta was usually a thick spaghetti or rigatoni and the dish was heavy, but delicious. I thought that’s how everybody ate pasta e fagioli. Later in life I learned there are as many versions of pasta and fagioli as there are varieties of beans – maybe more. 

For example, my friend Alessandra who’s originally from Padua, makes it the way it’s served in that Northern Italian city – almost a beige puree with no tomato at all – and just a few bits of pasta and beans peeking through the creamy soup-like dish. I’ve eaten it that way at her home and in Padua and I love that version too. 

Now that summer grilling season is here, and really good tomatoes are coming to market, I’m offering you another version with grilled tomatoes and small white beans. I actually prefer larger cannellini beans, but these small white Navy beans are what I had on hand. It’s a snap to put together in under a half hour and you’ve got a nutritious, delicious vegetarian meal with all the important food groups – vegetables, carbs and protein.

Start by spreading out tomatoes on a baking sheet, adding some thick slices of garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, plus some salt, pepper and fresh herbs (I used fresh oregano from my garden, but you could use dried if that’s all you have. I also used fresh grape tomatoes that had a wonderful sweetness to them, but you could try cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes, or even regular small salad tomatoes.)

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Put the cookie sheet on the grill and keep a close watch on the tomatoes. They only take a few minutes to cook and will easily burn if you leave them for too long. Stir them once with a spatula.

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Drain and rinse a small can of your favorite beans – cannellini, small white beans or even chickpeas, and toss them in a bowl with the tomatoes and cooked pasta. Add more seasoning (salt, pepper, red pepper flakes) and a drizzle of olive oil if it needs more.

Finish off with fresh basil. I’ve got both the vibrant green and the dark purple variety outside my door and the aroma is intoxicating at this time of year before the stems get woody.

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I minced a bit to toss into the pasta just before serving, and also garnished the dish with a few sprigs of the colorful leaves. Sprinkle a little freshly grated parmesan over the pasta and sit down to a healthy, flavorful and quick-to-prepare meal.

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Pasta E Fagioli

Farfalle with Grilled Tomatoes and Beans

Printable Recipe Here

serves two to three people

1/3 to 1/2 pound farfalle pasta

2 cups grape tomatoes

a drizzle of olive oil over the tomatoes (maybe 1/4 cup total)

4 garlic cloves, cut into large pieces

several sprigs of fresh oregano (or a sprinkling of dried oregano)

salt, pepper

small can (13 oz.) of white beans

red hot pepper flakes, optional

fresh basil, minced  - and more whole sprigs to garnish

parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

Place the tomatoes on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Cut pieces of garlic and sprigs of oregano and place in cookie sheet. Add salt, pepper and toss everything together. Place pan over grill grates and watch carefully to make sure tomatoes don’t burn. Use a spatula to turn them once or twice. They should take no longer than five minutes to cook. Remove the cooked tomatoes to a pasta serving bowl.

Meanwhile, boil the pasta and drain. Drain a small can of white beans (cannellini, navy beans or chick peas). I used only about 2/3 of the can. Add the drained beans to the tomatoes in the pasta bowl, then add the red pepper flakes if desired, more black pepper and the drained pasta. Toss everything together and add more olive oil if needed (I didn’t need to). Toss in the minced basil and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese.


  1. I love this summery version of pasta "fazool".
    I have always roasted tomatoes for pasta, but I will try grilling them this time.
    This will be our dinner when we get back from vacation, thanks Ciao Chow!

  2. Buonissime le tue farfalle con i fagioli!! brava!

  3. So flavorful, so colorful and summery! I love the idea of combining pasta with beans.



  4. Stunning looking dish and so perfect for summer time!

  5. This is one of my FAVOURITE dishes. Yum!

  6. wowwww che bellissima idea! buoneee

  7. Looking at your picture of this pasta really is making me hungry, and I just had my breakfast. It's very appealing Linda.

  8. The very best of comfort foods, Linda!
    My husband loves when I add some Fava beans along with the cannellini beans in my Pasta e Fagioli.

    I have been grilling all sorts of veggies this past week -- it all tastes so good and has almost made up for the horrid humidity we've been having way too early this year!

  9. Ciao Linda,

    Interesting recipe :-) I'll try it!
    Now it's time to these dishes, but when it'll be fresher again, try the pasta e fagioli with Borlotti beans - they create that creamy soup you talk about and it is really delicious.

    p.s.- I want you to know that people is reading often your interview :-)

  10. wow I have never grilled tomatoes for pasta - where have I been? This dish is the perfect warm weather meal - plus I like farfalle - its my favorite shape...silly huh?

  11. Linda, this is the first time I've seen a dish where the purple basil actually looks fab and belongs!

    I thinking this would also work well as a pasta salad...just bump up the basil.

  12. Wonderfully summery! Love the colors. Yet I still find myself eating crazy hot pasta dishes because I can't help myself!

  13. What memories! We had pasta "fazhool" most Fridays growing up. Warm and hearty. Fun to discover lighter versions for the summer. I love the sweet grape tomatoes you used. They just beckon. When I am done with my elves, I am going through your blog day by day. Have a feeling some more of my childhood treasures will show up.

  14. Gorgeous colour and flavours blended here Linda.

  15. Great recipe Linda.. I haven't tasted the purple basil yet, looks good though.

  16. Be still my heart! Boy, this looks good. The tomatoes seem to roast faster on the grill than in the oven. True? Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  17. I haven't had Pasta e Fagioli since I left home to get married. I just thought that we just used the fagioli because we had lots of them in the garden I didn't realise other people were eating pasta e fagioli. I must make it for my family. Thanks for reminding me!

  18. I can't believe how delicious this looks. Well, I can believe it since it came from your kitchen. Absolutely scrumptious.

  19. My fav version of this dish is the winter one, the soup, but maybe I can give yours a try, it looks so yummy!

  20. Hi Linda,

    Another wonderful tasting, gorgeous to look at and enjoy recipe from your hands.

    And for folks that have wide enough window sills or maybe a husband that can build onto one... grow basil in a pot in a sunny window, 'inside', if do just one time, you will do it every year once you have experienced it. I have three kitty kats (they knock pots off the sills) and too narrow a sill in my home now to place a pot. But when I was younger and living in an apartment and only one small dog, I did and you get raves from anyone as you open your door. Everyone sighed and said... "Wow, what is your air freshner? It is wonderful."

  21. Oh Linda, I wanted to ask you and/or your readers a question. What are white kidney beans? I saw this in a recipe recently and was wondering if they were referring to cannellini beans? I am not familar with white kidney beans. But then there are sooo many types of beans.

    And my baby boy, The Rufus Puppy is still MIA. I am disconsolate.

  22. Hands down one of my favorite dishes. Yum!

  23. mi piace moltissimo questa pasta e fagioli, la foto è splendida, sembra un quadro, davvero invitante. Ciao Daniela.

  24. A wonderful pasta for summertime! I love the combination of grilled tomatoes and beans!

  25. This sounds like the perfect recipe for summer! I've never tried grilling grape tomatoes before but they look and sound delicious :)

  26. Looks good enough to eat tonight, Can't wait another minute

  27. What a beautiful dish with those grilled tomatoes and two colors of basil. Thank you for this great meatless meal option - perfect for summer.

  28. Funny, I'm growing lots of cherry tomatoes this summer, plus five different beans, and all I have been thinking of is making pasta e fagioli (or, as my people say, "basta fazool") when the crops come in.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    And for dropping by last night.

  29. Oh, and to Sheryll and Critters:

    White kidney beans are basically cannellini beans.

    It's one of the types I'm growing this summer.

  30. Thos tomatoes look wonderful! What a beautiful photo. I lov ethe idea of grilled tomatoes with pasta, and I bet they can be used in about a thousand other dishes. Yum!

  31. Linda this looks wonderful...a summery version of one of my favorite meals...In the winter I make one that is a summer something similar to your...but I usually do not cook the tomatoes...I am going to try your method of grilling them...perfect summer meal!
    Your basil looks gorgeous!

  32. This is a "must-make" pasta dish for summer. So beautiful, as are your photos, Linda. (BTW, I have a couple linens similar to your "pasta" one. I love them; I found them at a local Italian fest one year.)