Simple, affordable, but still hearty, this rustic Italian dish is an ideal vegetarian meal with plenty of protein.
Pasta e fagioli is a simple, hearty, Italian soup-type dish made with pasta and beans. Some of you may know this dish from your Italian relatives, friends or local restaurants as “pasta fazool.”
Everyone seems to have their own special recipe for pasta e fagioli, and this one is my family’s (although my mom’s version is always different because she usually tosses in miscellaneous veggies she has on hand).
If my dad were alive, he’d be cracking up to see that I was sharing this recipe. He always thought it was funny when people fussed over rustic Italian dishes that were the most simple and cost effective — basically the “peasant food” he grew up eating in Italy because it was inexpensive and readily available.
Peasant food or not, pasta e fagioli will fill you up, and it makes a delicious, satisfying meal — especially when it’s served with rustic Italian bread and a glass of wine!
This is a vegetarian recipe (and vegan with a swap of the Parmesan cheese), but many people add prosciutto or bacon to the dish for added flavor.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2, 15- ounce cannellini beans or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup of low-sodium vegetable stock
- 3 cups water
- 2 small tomatoes diced (you could also use about 1/4 cup of marinara sauce)
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 2 garlic clove minced
- 3/4 cup elbow macaroni or any small pasta
- 1/4 cup or a bit more Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley more for garnish if you’d like, torn into small pieces
- In a large stock pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and the onion. Allow the onion to cook until it is tender (about 3 minutes). Add the tomato (or marinara sauce) and garlic and incorporate it into the mixture. Cook for just 1-2 minutes (be careful not to burn the garlic).
- Add the vegetable stock, water, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Bring this to a boil and then add your pasta. Lower the heat and allow the pasta to cook until it’s about 3/4 of the way finished (still slightly firm).
- Add your beans and allow the mixture to continue cooking until the pasta is fully cooked (about 10-15 minutes). Add the parsley toward the end of your cooking time. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Serve in individual bowls with extra parsley as garnish and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
Patricia Conte is the writer, recipe developer, and photographer behind Grab a Plate. She credits her love of cooking, baking, and entertaining to her Italian immigrant family who is also passionate about all things food! Visit her at Grab a Plate where she shares her love of food, recipes, and bites in between. Follow Patricia on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.