It's a Micro World after all is a blog dedicated to discussing pretty much whatever I feel like. When I delve into scientific matters it will primarily be discussing microbiology (agricultural, bioenergy, and environmental focus). Otherwise, I'll probably ramble on about sports and life.
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Here is my family recipe, as promised in my Donor's Choose challenge. If you like this recipe, and want more ... you've got to donate! As long as you donate, I'll make good on my promise and post two recipes. One will be a family recipe or my choosing, the other will be a recipe for one of my favorite comfort foods (so technically they will both be family recipes). If we get to $250, I'll post a family secret cheescake recipe, and if we hit $500, I'll post the other.
Now here we go, my family recipe of the week. It's pasta e fagioli (pronounced sort of like pasta fah-zule) where zule sounds like yule, as in the log. ;) It's typically a meatless dish, but you can add a pound of cubed beef to it if you can't go a meal without consuming animal flesh (I'm looking at you Brian). Some people and restaurants* use ground beef ... whatever you do, don't ruin this good meal using ground beef. I beg you.
Pasta e Fagioli
1 pound beef, cubed, and browned in olive oil (optional)
1 pound pasta (I grew up with ditalini rigati, which look like small tubes, but you could get away with penne rigate or gremiti here)
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) of beans (you can use red kidney beans, but I like cannellini, using canned beans is nice because you don't have to soak them overnight in cold water).
2 cups of chicken stock
1 cup of water
4 to 6 cloves of garlic (crushed and minced, you can certainly use more if you love garlic like I do)
1 can (28 ounces) of diced tomatos (use a good brand, one that doesn't taste too tinny such as Muir Glen, Tuttorosso, or even Progresso)
Basil (if you have fresh dice it up and use it but the all encompassing "Italian Spices" will work in a pinch). Season to taste, but usually a good few shakes into your palm as measurement will suffice.
1 large onion, chopped and diced
Olive oil (discretionary amounts)
Don't even think of using this "cheese"!
Sautee onion and garlic until brown with a few teaspoons of olive oil. Do the onion first because if you burn your garlic, it'll taste horrible. The garlic will brown very easily. Toss in the basil (if fresh) and heat up for maybe 30 seconds or so. Add tomatos (and basil if using dried) and chicken stock, simmer for 30 minutes so flavors diffuse through the sauce. Drain beans then add, cooking for another 2 hours. Remove a couple of cups of the "soup" mix, place in blender and puree. Cook your pasta in water. It will typically take about seven to eight minutes if placed in already boiling water. Drain pasta and add to pot of tomatos and beans. Add puree'd beans back to pot, add the cup of water. If it's too thick, you can add a bit more water (or additional chicken stock if you please) until it thins just a bit. Season with black pepper and red pepper flakes (to taste, totally optional). Sprinkle on some good parmesean cheese (if you buy it in a can, it's not good ... if you have to grate it, it's probably good), or if you prefer a bit of a salty-kick to it, instead of adding salt, sprinkle on some Pecorino Romano cheese (also grated). Serve and enjoy!
*I'm looking at you Olive Garden ... a pox on you.
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You can never go wrong with peasant dishes. Does this recipe lend itself well to fresh beans (I've got some late favas, I've been meaning to use up)?
Will you be having some chianti with those fava beans JaySeeDub?! ; )
I could serve seared calf liver after the fagioli...
JaySeeDub: I think fava beans would go extremely well with this recipe. Let me know what how it turns out.
The thing I like about cooking is, while I'll work off a general recipe/guideline, I'm not afraid of mixing things up. Unless I'm really craving a particular flavor/experience at the time I'm cooking it up (e.g., I almost never mess with my ribs with apricot sauce recipe), I'll almost always try to add a spin to the dish and see how it turns out. Sometimes I wind up with something sub-par (but still edible) but oftentimes I wind up with a dish that I could easily substitute for the original and have a great appreciation for.