Cooking Anne Burrell’s Pasta Fagioloi

anne-burrells-pasta-fagioliHey, look, a food post! For those of you who might not know, I used to have yet another blog called Monkeying Around The Kitchen where I chronicled my journeys with food. After a while — and a lack of posts — I realized two things: one, I just didn’t have time to keep it up and two, I cook for my family, so those posts could easily be shifted over here to Pop Poppa. Hence, the MATK archives can now be found here on PP.

I’ve been jonesing to get back to writing about my cooking experience and how it goes over with the kids, so here we go! Last night, I made Pasta Fagioli from Anne Burrell’s Cook Like A Rock Star (page 112). While flipping through my cookbooks yesterday to come up with the week’s menu, I came across this one and took a risk. No, I wasn’t worried that the recipe would turn out poorly — this is a great book if you’re into Italian food — but more that the kids might not like the combination of cannellini beans and chick peas. They can be real picky about those things.

I decided to just go for it and whipped this one up yesterday. It’s actually a super easy recipe, especially if you’re using canned beans, tomatoes and packaged, diced pancetta. I enjoy recipes where I use the can opener more than my knife (I only had to cut up an onion and rasped a pair of garlic cloves).

Usually, I get everything prepped as far in advance as possible, but that wasn’t as necessary with this recipe, which was nice. I cut the onion and drained the beans and then handled the rest as I went. I should have bought the crushed San Marzano tomatoes instead of the whole ones because running them through the food mill was a pain and didn’t exactly get the best results (it was my first time using the thing, so I’m guessing operator error was a large factor). For what it’s worth, I didn’t include the crushed red pepper, replaced the cup of water with a cup of store bought chicken stock and added a few glugs of red wine vinegar after adding the tomatoes.

Since I wound up ahead of the schedule with dinner, I let this one simmer to let the flavors get together and it turned out great! I realized after finishing that I wasn’t sure if this was technically a soup or a pasta dish because there wasn’t much in the way of liquid, but that was fine by me. The brininess of the pancetta would pop up every now and then in the middle of these nice tomatoy bites of tiny ditalini pasta mixed with the beans. I’m glad I added the red wine vinegar too because it brought out the tanginess of the tomatoes and made the mouth party all the better!

Of course, the real question here is whether the kids liked it. The answer: they did, but there was a moment of worry. After a bite, our 5 year old daughter said, “I don’t like all the beans.” That elicited a parrot-like response from her 2 year old brother and I started thinking about what I was going to do with this big pot of food I still had. I gave it a moment and then she said something like, “Just kidding,” and dove back in as did her brother. It was a huge relief and I’ll definitely return to this one as it gets colder.

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