Sunday, December 2, 2007

Pasta and Bean Stew

My grandmother made this dish for us, and I find it yummy to have a bean gravy with your pasta. This version is a vegetarian version derived from “Food and Memories of Abruzzo, Italy’s Pastoral Land,” by Anna Teresa Callen.

1 pound cranberry beans, picked over and washed
1 celery rib with leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 sprigs fresh parsely
2 bay leaves
1 piece of Parmesan rind (a large hunk of the hard rind left from a Parmesan wheel)
1 medium onion, quartered
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 4 pieces
1 sprig fresh parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 16 oz. can pureed tomatoes
1 teaspoon tomato paste
Freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes
1 cup short pasta, such as tubetti or lumachine

Soak beans and drain and rinse. Place beans, celery, garlic, parsley, and bay leaves in a large soup pot. Add 2½ quarts of cold water. Bring to a boil. Add the Parmesan rind to the beans. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 2 hours.

To prepare the sauce, place the veggies, including the parsley, in a food processor to chop finely. In a 10-inch skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the chopped vegetables. Cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and tomato paste, stir, add pepper and the red pepper flakes. Cook the sauce over medium-low heat at a simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, remove the celery, garlic, and parsley that was cooked with the beans. Place these in a food processor with 1 cup of the beans. Puree and return to the pot. Add the sauce, bring the soup back to a boil, reduce heat to low, and summer 10 to 15 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water for about 5 minutes. Drain. Add the pasta to the beans and bring the soup back to a boil and cook until the pasta is done, 5 to 8 minutes. Let the soup rest 5 minutes before serving.

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