Pasta e fagioli, pasta fazool, pasta and beans… whatever you call it, this is the ultimate in Italian comfort food. It’s hard to beat mezzi canneroni here, we maintain they’re the best pasta shape for this dish! First of all, once cooked their centers are perfectly bean-sized, which happily means the borlotti get stuck inside. Second, their thickness means they release quite a bit of starch. Extra starch = creamy texture, without the cream.
Don’t bother with canned beans for this dish. Go for the good stuff! We opted for Bio Alberti Borlotti beans, but their cannellini would also be delicious. Bio Alberti is a third generation organic farm in Umbria that still uses traditional methods to ensure the most flavorful harvest. With a dish this straightforward, you’ll really taste the quality of your beans. Of course, the tomatoes matter too. We’ve chosen Vesuvian Piennolo tomatoes for their boldness and super flavorful skins.
TIME: 20 minutes + bean soaking and cooking time (8 hours + 1-2 hours)
- Borlotti Beans, 175g / 6.1 oz (dry weight)
- Bay leaf, 1
- Vacche Rosse Cheese Rind, 2-3 inch piece
- Fine Sea Salt, to taste
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 tbsp, plus more to serve
- Yellow onion, 1 small, finely chopped
- Celery, 1 stalk, finely chopped
- Peperoncini, to taste
- Piennolo tomatoes, 90g/1/2 cup
- Stratto tomato concentrate, 1 tsp thinned with some broth or water
- Mezzi Canneroni, 300g
- Soak the borlotti beans for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Drain, then put them in a large pot with ample fresh water, the bay leaf, the vacche rose cheese rind, and 1 tsp of fine sea salt (or to taste). Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, skimming away any impurities that rise to the surface. Simmer the beans until they are cooked through but still retain their shape (approximately 60-90 minutes). Strain, reserving their cooking liquid and the cheese rind.
- Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the celery, onion, whole garlic clove, and a pinch of fine sea salt. Cook until the vegetables soften, stirring from time to time.
- Meanwhile, measure your bean cooking water. You’ll need about 1.1L / 4.5 cups of liquid (or more if you prefer your pasta e fagioli more soup-like). Just add water to make up the difference if you don’t have enough!
- Once the vegetables are soft, add the peperoncini, the piennolo tomatoes, and the stratto thinned with broth or water. Stir together and cook for a few minutes to allow the flavors to combine.
- Remove the garlic clove, then add the cooked beans (you should have about 400g/2 cups), the reserved cheese rind, the mezzi canneroni, and the bean cooking water. Mix together and bring to a boil, then reduce to a moderate simmer. Set a timer for 11 minutes, stirring as needed to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Taste and determine if the pasta needs more cooking time, more salt, or more liquid. When the pasta’s done, take the pan off the heat and stir in a tablespoon or so of extra virgin olive oil.
- Divide between bowls and serve alongside chili peppers, extra virgin olive oil, and some vacche rosse cheese.