Thursday, 6 September 2012

Pasta Fagioli - Pasta Fazool


My husband and I (along with a few million others) were huge fans of the TV series The Sopranos. We never watched the show on TV, instead we waited patiently for all six seasons to be released on DVD, then purchased the lot in one thrilling moment. We promptly went home, made dinner, fed the babies, put them to bed and watched the first amazing, mind-blowing, engrossing, unique and ultimately addictive episode. From that night on, until we finished the complete boxed set, we followed the same routine (we had babies and no social life, what can I tell ya - in my best New Jersey accent). Night after night, we'd eat dinner, feed the babies, put the babies to bed, load the DVD player and sit, totally transfixed, watching Tony and the gang for an hour. Then we'd spend the next hour trying to guess who was going to perform the next whack-job, if Carmela would leave Tony, who was ratting on who and... you guessed it, what they were eating? Was it just us, or did they always seem to be preparing, eating and/or talking about food? Nearly every scene in every episode involved food. From the opening scene in the first episode of the pool-side barbecue to the closing scene in the last episode of the diner and nearly everything in between, food played a central role. From Satriale's Pork Store to Nuovo Vesuvio Ristorante and references to gabagool, shfooyadell, mozzadell, manicot, prozhoot and don't get me started on Karens Ziti... that show was a veritable feast.

A little while after we had finished the last episode (and acquired a social life), I found The Sopranos Family Cookbook and bought it for my husband as a joke. Little did I know it would be such a great source of Italian American recipes and that I would get caught up in the world of the Sopranos every time I opened it.

Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in. ...

Pasta Fagioli - Pasta Fazool
from Allen Rucker's The Sopranos Family Cookbook
Serves 8

1 cup dried cannellini beans (you can use 3 cups canned, be sure to drain and rinse them first)
1 stick celery, chopped 
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
1/4 cup olive oil 
1 cup fresh tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped (you can use canned peeled tomatoes)
1 teaspoon tomato paste 
1/2 cup water 
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (a large pinch if you like it spicy, like me) 
sea salt flakes 
200g ditalini or 200g of any other pasta, broken into small pieces
Extra virgin olive oil and finely grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

If using dried beans, put them in a bowl with cold water to cover by about 2cm, and let stand for at least 4 hours, or overnight, in the refrigerator. Add more water if necessary to keep the beans covered.

Drain the beans and place them in a pot with fresh water to cover by 2cm. Bring to a simmer over lower heat. Cover the pot and cook until the beans are very soft, about 1 hour. Add more water if needed to keep the beans just covered.

Cook the celery and garlic in the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, crushed red pepper and salt (to taste). Simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened. 

Add the beans to the tomato sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Tale about a cup of the bean mixture out and puree it in a blender then add it back to the saucepan. This will give the dish a thick and creamy texture.

Stir in the pasta and cook, stirring often, until the pasta is al dente. The mixture should be very thick, but add a little boiling water if it seems to thick. Turn off the heat and let stand for 10 minutes prior to serving.

Spoon into pasta bowls and finish with a swirl of your best extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


  1. Oh. My God. I never watched Sopranos. Shame on me!!! Now I want to buy the DVD's by the way you talked about it. My boyfriend is Italian and I think it would be funny to watch this show with him. Because his family is freakingly Italian. I'm sure that this show would remind us of his toooooooooo muccchhhh Italian family.

    I've a new obsession. I want to watch this. & have this book. Because your plate of pasta seems sooooooooo delicious.

    Well, it makes me want to have these DVD's and this book. Oh gosh. I'll think of that all day now ;)

  2. Hehe Gabrielle, you so need to watch The Sopranos. It's an absolute classic and I'm sure you and your boyfriend would love the characters and all the food references. Sitting down to a night of watching The Sopranos with a big bowl of Pasta Fazool - now that's living.