Monday, November 15, 2010

Pasta Fagioli

This is one of the all time favorite Italian zuppa dishes.  Delicious, hearty and full of flavor! 
     Depending on the family or chef, pasta fagioli can have poor economic memories attached to it or it can be an elegant recipe.  The ingredients in pasta fagioli recipes reflect upon the origins of its family recipe. 
     I learned this very refined pasta fagioli recipe while apprenticing in a New York Italian restaurant.  The chef was from Modena Italy and he did his chef apprenticing in Venice Italy.  Those are two great Italian cooking regions.  The chef was a Ferrari mechanic in the day time too.  The owner was an award winning Italian saute chef from Sicily.  Now thats Italian! 
     Pasta fagioli is always cooked to order.  By the way, fagioli is pronounced as "FAH-Zooo".  The chef died laughing when I pronounced fagioli the first time as "FAGGY-O-LEE".  I was still very green in those days.
     Recipe:  Saute a small handfyl of petite julienne sliced pancetta with a small splash of olive oil in a sauce pot over medium heat. 
     When the pancetta starts to brown, add 2 cloves of chopped garlic and a small handful of chopped onion. 
     Cook till the onions are clear. 
     Add 2 escarole leaves that are sliced into wide ribbons. 
     Add thin julienne sliced prosciutto.  (About 1 or 2 paper thin slices of prosciutto is enough.)  
     Saute the ingredients till the escarole wilts. 
     Add 1 spoonful of Imported canned Italian crushed plum tomato. 
     Add a few Italian flat parsley leaves. 
     Add 2 sliced fresh sage leaves. 
     Add a generous pinch of oregano.
     Add sea salt and black pepper. 
     Add a pinch of crushed red pepper. 
     Add a pinch of basil. 
     Add enough chicken stock to make a large bowl of soup. 
     Add 2 handfuls of cooked or rinsed canned cannellini beans.  (Cannellini white beans are the best kind of beans that are used to make a traditional pasta fagioli.) 
     Simmer the soup till the broth develops a full flavor. 
     Add a small portion of al dente cooked fettucini pasta.  (This recipe is a soup with a little bit of pasta in it, so you don't need to add much pasta.) 
     Immediately ladle the soup into a shallow soup bowl. 
     Try to show all the ingredients on the surface of the soup. 
     Serve with some grated parmesan on the side.
     This by far is the best pasta fagioli recipe that I ever learned!  The flavors are supreme!  The soup is actually very light and so full of Italian Parma Ham and pancetta flavor.  Escarole adds a very light buttery cabbage flavor.  The soup should be brothy but full of ingredients that feature the light flavored cannellini beans.  Pasta fagioli is a great afternoon soup!  Delicious!   ...  Shawna

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