Pasta Fagioli has a long tradition in Italy’s south and occupies a beloved space in the Cucina Povera tradition. On another note, Slow Food International has adopted beans as this year’s focus to go along with the Slow Beans focus. Check it out!
Here, I have visited the expertise of another favorite Italian chef, Stanley Tucci. His memoir, Taste, My Life Through Food, takes us on a marvelous culinary journey through his Italian American childhood, acting career, travels, and marriages with food at the absolute center. However, the chapter about his bout with tongue cancer brings home the role that food and taste play in our lives, and how to survive the loss of those precious gifts.
So as not to make a spoiler alert, suffice to say this dish, Stanley’s version of Pasta Fagioli helps his recovery and healing. It is a delicious recipe that includes marinara sauce and kale. Yes, kale. Trust me, it’s yummy!
- 3-4 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, cut in half
- ½ bunch Cavallo nero (kale), chopped roughly
- 3 14 oz. cans cannolini beans
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 2-3 cups marina sauce
- 1 lb small pasta (ditali or gnocchetti sardi)
- salt to taste
- a few grinds black pepper
- pecorino or parmigiana for serving optional
- In a pot of salted water, blanch the kale for 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium soup pot, heat olive oil. Add onion and garlic, and saute until soft. Add beans, veg stock, and marinara, Mix well and simmer for about 5 minutes partially covered. Then add the kale and simmer gently partially covered for 15 minutes.
- Boil pasta according to package directions. When done, drain but keep 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
- For 4 servings: In a large bowl, add cooked pasta, 2 cups bean mixture, pasta water, and a drizzle of olive oil. Divide this between 4 bowls. Add more bean mixture as desired.
- Top with a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and grated cheese if using.