My mom says she thinks Beans & Macaroni was an every Friday night dish when she was growing up — for Catholics, Friday was a no-meat day. Both my parents grew up in Brooklyn during the 1930’s & 40’s. My grandparents were from Italy and all cooking was Italy influenced.
Beans & Macaroni is also the oft-dialect-named Pasta “Fazul” or in real Italian: Pasta e Fagioli. This is a very simple dish — deceivingly so, because the flavor is surprising and addicting. AND you’re eating awfully-good healthy.
You start by putting on the pasta pot to boil. Add your pasta, then start the other ingredients. That’s how long it takes. No time!
Try it. It’s a surprise (if you didn’t know it already) and when you’ve got a couple of garlic cloves, a can of beans, and a 1/2 lb. of pasta— you’re in!
I added the “prohibited” meat, a 1/4 lb. of chopped pancetta.
Also, not in my mom’s original recipe: some fresh herbs added at the end: basil, parsley, sage, or rosemary— just a little… of just a couple.
Beans & Macaroni (Pasta Fagioli — “Pasta Fazul”)
1/2 lb. small cut macaroni i.e. elbow or ditalini
1 15-oz can cannellini beans
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled & cut in half
1/4 cup minced pancetta (optional)
salt & pepper to taste
3-4 sprigs Italian parley, leaves minced, stems discarded
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves minced, stems discarded
grated cheese to pass at table
Fill a pasta pot with water and bring to a boil. Season water with salt and pour in pasta. Cook until “al dente” (done but not mushy).
Meanwhile, add the can of beans and its water to a small saucepan, add an additional 3/4 can of water. Season beans with salt & pepper. Bring to a simmer. After it’s hot, take a potato masher and mash down the beans one or two times only– so you get a little mush, but mostly left with whole beans (this thickens the whole dish a little). In another small saucepan, add the olive oil and garlic (& pancetta if using) until garlic gets just a little golden (and pancetta is cooked through), then shut off.
Drain pasta and add drained pasta to a medium serving bowl. Add the beans and its water. Add the olive oil, (cooked pancetta), and garlic. Sprinkle with parsley & rosemary, toss to combine. Serve in bowls. Pass grated cheese.