Oh god, it’s been a while. I’m sorry, if you consider yourself a fan. Even if you’re not, and we’re just friends, I’ll consider you a fan anyways. Cool.
I’ve been indulging and out-dulging in some pretty exquisite and horrific things lately. They range from gastronomic fantasies (in the kitchen only, perverts), to a Sonoma hippie’s dream table extravaganza. Basically I’ve been eating a lot of prosciutto/ham hocks, and I bought a really badass juicer.
Recently I spent a week up at my boyfriend’s family’s cottage in Northern Ontario, and was introduced to Pasta Fagiole, in person, as his mom was raised in an Italian household. Being Italian myself, I was raised being told legends of the mysterious “Pasta Fazool,” a recipe native to my own family, although I never really got to experience it… So, up at the cottage, we (Jon and myself) had concocted a Polar Bear sized pot of the Devastating Tomato Sauce (see previous post). It was a rainy day, and Jon’s mom decided to bust out some Pasta Fagiole, made with what was on hand, macaroni and kidney beans. I have to hand it to her, it was damn fine. When I got home, I decided to make it myself, with what I had on hand, and with some direction from my dad, and his memory of Pasta Fazool. Fagiole, Fazool. It’s basically the same thing, although I think regionally, the thickness of the dish (sauce-wise) is varied. Sometimes there are vegetables involved, sometimes no, who cares. You can go your own waaaaaaaay (go your own waaa–a-ay). Alright. So here’s what happened when Jon and I got into the prosciutto and got hungry for Pasta Fazool (I have to stick to my roots. The word is gonna be Fazool).
Pasta Fazool. Prosciutto, Fool.
I should start by telling you that when we started to make this, Jon and I thoughtlessly decided to flavour it with expensive, expensive San Danielle prosciutto. The prosciutto lost all of it’s flavour, but goddamn, did we have one bangin’ broth. Don’t do what we did. If you want a flavourful porky-delicious soup, sautée your veggies in bacon fat. My god, that sounds evil. We had to use MORE crisped prosciutto at the end to have prosciutto that actually had flavour. Boo-urns.
Prosciutto – 5 or 6 good pieces, the thin stuff. More if you want. We like more.
2-3 cups of Devastating Tomato Sauce (or whatever you want, I suppose. I think this makes the dish though, prosciutto aside)
1-3 cups water or chicken stock (depending on how thick you want it to be. My family’s recipe is quite thin, Jon’s is less viscous… I like it in the middle)
2-3 Tbsp oil
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped finely
1 carrot, chopped into small pieces (optional)
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
2 cups (1 can?) of cooked Canellini beans, or Romano (Borlotti) beans
1- 1.5 cups dry pasta, preferably short-cut, such as Ditalini, orecchiette, or gemelli. Broken spaghetti works fine too.
1 rind from parmesan or romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste
After you’ve gathered all of your ingredients, crisp prosciutto in a frying pan (the bacon principle applies, but much quicker). Set aside.
In a biggish pot or dutch oven, sautée onions, celery, carrot (if using), bay leaf, oregano and basil in oil (or… BACON FAT?) until onions and celery are translucent. Add garlic and sautée 1-2 minutes longer, being careful not to burn. Next, add sauce and as much water or broth as you feel necessary, depending on whether or not you want a thicker or thinner broth. Add the rind from cheese, and let it simmer, covered, for half an hour or so, until the vegetables are quite soft. Meanwhile, in boiling salted water (salt is important!!!), cook the dry pasta until just before it becomes al dente, with a bit of bite left in it. Drain, and add the cannellini beans to your soup, and then your semi-cooked pasta. Let it simmer, uncovered until the pasta if fully cooked (to your liking). Stir in the prosciutto you set aside, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve, garnished with grated parmesan or romano cheese.
Okay, so there it is. It’s home-y, it’s very inexpensive if you nix the prosciutto (hello, college), and it tastes, dare I say it, amazoid. It’s salty goodness that you won’t believe. I don’t even know what else to say. I hope things work out.