Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pasta e Fagioli (a non grilling post)

I was having one of those nights last night when I had no idea of what to make for dinner.  Usually I know the night before but the first full work week after the holidays was tiring and I just wasn't feeling inspired.

Alexis came home from work and said, "[Anonymous coworker] had Pasta Fagioli from Olive Garden for lunch today, it was pretty good.  I wish you would make that for dinner."

That was easy, her wish is my command.  I had no clue what Olive Garden's dish was like other than Alexis' description.  I found this recipe on BigOven, made a few changes, and came up with this.

Speaking of BigOven, I've used their desktop software for years.  It's so easy to copy and past a recipe from the blogs I read and save them in my infinitely growing "try soon" folder by using the screen import feature.  I paid $25 for the BigOven desktop software years and years ago but IT IS NOW FREE.  I highly recommend it for organizing recipes, planning shopping, and creating meal plans.  They also have free apps for smart phones and tablets.  I find the apps very handy for quick reference when cooking since my laptop doesn't fit on the counter.

Pasta e Fagioli
Serves: 8

  • 1.25 lbs Italian sausage*
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and julienned  (about 2 carrots)
  • 1 cup celery, diced (about 3 stalks, leaves reserved)
  • 1 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 12 oz V-8 fruit juice
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic*
  • 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 14.5 oz Bush's Best dark red kidney beans, not drained
  • 14.5 oz Bush's Best cannellini beans, not drained
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 1 1/2 McCormick's Mediterranean Sea Salt 
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp oregano, dried
  • 1/2 tsp thyme, dried
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp basil, fresh chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp celery leaves, fresh chopped
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 1/2 lb ditalini
  • 1/2 cup pecorino-romano cheese, fresh grated for garnish
  1. Preheat a large pot over medium high heat.  Brown sausage and remove to colander to drain. (See note)
  2. Saute the carrots, onion, and celery for the mirepoix until softened, 5-8 minutes.  
  3. Return sausage to the pot and add remaining ingredients except the water and pasta.  Add as much of the water as needed to get the mix a little soupier than you want for your final texture.  We used about one cup, but that will be dependent on how much juices you get from your canned goods.
  4. Bring to a simmer and then simmer uncovered for an hour, stirring occasionally.  
  5. Make the pasta according to directions.  
  6. Drain the pasta and stir into the pot.  Simmer 10 more minutes.
  7. Serve with grated pecorino romano cheese.
  • Alexis mentioned that the Fagioli she had from Olive Garden had sliced sausage in it.  I thought there needed to be some broken up sausage too.  So I sliced two of the links and browned them.  The other three I removed from their casings and browned them as bulk sausage, breaking them up into fine pieces.  You can just brown all of the sausage in fine pieces but we found using two different textures made a significant impact on the final dish.  Every spoonful had a little sausage in it but every now and then you get a nice big chuck of it.
  • We usually have roasted garlic on hand because we roast a batch about every other weekend.  If you only have raw garlic, just chop it and throw it in with the mirepoix. 

All of the pottery in the photos is from Stony Claystation, our favorite local artists.  They aren't selling online (yet) but check their studio if you're ever in Lenoir City, TN or see them at various local markets.  All of their stuff is unique and fully functional in the kitchen.  Here is some more of their stuff (but by no means, all that we have).  

[Standard Disclaimer] I received no compensation for this post and all opinions are my own.  I am a paying customer of all brands mentioned.  I do have engagements with Bush Beans; however, this post is outside of any paid projects.  Ben and Melissa from Stony Claystation have thrown in a freebie here and there over the past few years but that is because we are such frequent customers.