Pasta and beans is a traditional Italian dish I grew up with. And it is one of my favorites. If I had to describe it in a few words, I’d say it is a genuine, so intense-flavored but still so simple dish that you just can’t but love it. I still wonder why it hasn’t gained popularity outside of Italy. Whoever I cooked this meal for, for the first time, could not believe that pasta and beans would match so perfectly well together!
This recipe goes well all year round. We enjoy it most though during the cold winter. When you eat it, you will know why :)
My grandma used to cook the beans in the fireplace in a terracotta vase. She left it there for hours. Then she prepared the little sauce made of olive oil, pureed and chopped tomatoes and the herbs and spices. After letting the sauce simmer for a while she added the beans with its own water, while the pasta cooked in a separate pot. As a last step, she poured the pasta into the pot with the beans and the yummy dish was ready to be served..spicy! In Calabria they don’t cook anything without making sure that it’s hot!
Back home at my parents’ house we adopted a slightly different method, which tastes great too. Nevertheless, I won’t dare to compare the ‘stove version’ to the beans cooked for hours in a fireplace in a terracotta jar..
300 g / 10½ oz of borlotti or cannellini beans (alternatively: pinto beans)
100 g / 3½ oz of pureed tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
100 g / 3½ oz of bacon, chopped
1 big potato, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
ground red pepper
300 g / 10½ oz of ditali or ditaloni pasta (or similar type of pasta)
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A little prenote: My family’s recipe uses exclusively dried beans, which take much longer of course. You can speed it up a little by letting the beans soak in water overnight. I must admit though, that not having always several hours available to cook the beans, I have tried a few times to replace the dried ones with canned beans. The outcome is fine. As long as you season it well you shouldn’t be noticing a big difference.
Rinse the beans (canned beans as well as the dried ones if they have previously soaked in water). Pour them in a pot and fill it with water (at least 3 times more water than the beans). Put the stove on medium to high heat for at least 30min, if canned beans, 1h if dried beans.
Then stir in all the other ingredients, except the pasta. Cover the pot with a lid and let it cook until the sauce gets thicker and creamy. Stir occasionally and add additional hot water if necessary. Please note that dried beans can take up to 2-3h to cook.
In the meantime prepare the pasta in a separate pot with salted boiling water, and add it al dente to the beans. Stir well and serve.
Prep Time: 1h (canned beans), 2-3h (dried beans)