Here’s (one of) mine: I’m begging you, please don’t refer to pasta sauce as gravy. Gravy goes on Thanksgiving turkey or Sunday roast beef. Man, it feels great to get that one off my chest. Food snobbery, you say? Not even – I eat pretty much everything, sometimes in bizarre combinations and often in embarrassing quantities.
Nope, my issue probably stems from the fact that a) I write and edit for a living and b) I’m a first generation American who has always been sensitive to certain, umm, stereotypes. So for me, words like “capish” (a bastardization of “capisci,” which means to understand) are not unlike fingernails scraping against a chalkboard. There are many other examples, but you get the idea. Anyway, thanks for letting me vent!
Today’s bizarre word association brings to mind Pasta Fazool. It’s an Americanized take on the Neopolitan name for the “proper” Italian Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and bean soup). Call it what you will, but be sure to give this unusual and delicious version a try this winter.
1 pound of ditalini pasta
2 cans of borlotti beans, rinsed
1 lb can of pureed San Marzano tomatoes
2 green peppers, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup of minced Italian flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup of chopped basil
crushed red pepper, optional
In a large pot, combine the tomatoes, garlic, peppers, basil and parsley. Simmer 20 minutes or until reduced by one third.
Add the borlotti beans and cook 5 more minutes.
Remove from heat and salt to taste. Add the olive oil. (It’s important to add the oil at the end so it keeps its fruity flavor.
As the sauce cooks, boil the pasta until extremely al dente, as the pasta will absorb more liquid later on.
Drain and reserve 2 cups of pasta water.
Combine pasta with beans and sauce. if you prefer a soupier dish, add the reserved pasta water until the consistency is to your liking and adjust the salt accordingly.
If you like it hot, add some red pepper.
In Abruzzo, we usually don’t usually add grated cheese to this dish. But of course add it if you want. But do me one favor: taste it first. You may find that the aromatic garlic and herbs, sweet tomatoes and starchy beans, combined with al dente pasta, are perfect as is.