Thursday, March 26, 2009

Usin' The Sauce.

Something you will notice in a hurry about most of those sauce recipes, is that they make a whole lot of sauce. The reason for that is simple, I freaking love any and all(vegan) tomato sauce. I suppose there are also some other reasons:
  1. Sauce not only holds really well in the fridge, and for months in the freezer, but it is actually better a few days after you made it.
  2. I often make a few pounds of pasta along with the sauce, and then portion that out into sandwich bags, and have work lunches (or lazy dinners) for the week.
  3. In addition to being a great leftover in it's own right, sauce is a great ingredient. I often add it to other recipes to cut down on the cooking time that using fresh tomatoes would add.
It's reason number 3 that I am going to talk about today, and probably in my next post or two. What can I say, when I get Italian food on the brain, it is hard to think of anything else.

I hit snooze far too many times this morning, got ready in a hurry, stepped out the door to walk the dog and instantly realized that this is a soup day. The sky is gray and overcast, it is chilly but not freezing and there is a heavy mist in the air, that gets you wet but won't quite become rain. It is just the kind of day when I want to sit inside watch dvds and eat soup. I may have to go to work, so sitting on my couch and watching movies all day is out, but soup is definitely still on the radar for dinner. Since I still have a little sauce left from that batch that prompted the last entry and I always have veggie stock on hand, so I have got a pretty good head start on a pot of Pasta fagioli (say it with me, "Pasta Fah-zool.") This is easily my favorite soup ever.

Pasta Fagioli
Like a lot of other Italian dishes, if you asked a hundred different grandmas, you would get a hundred different recipes. The things that these recipes always share are small white beans and short cut pasta. Most recipes also include a tomato broth, but not all. Some also have other veggies mixed in. I make what is pretty much the standard version, Cannelinni Beans, Ditalini pasta and tomato broth.

5 - cups of veggie stock
2 - cups of left over sauce (I like to use Fra Diavolo for this, but any will work.)
1 Tbsp - olive oil
3 - stalks of celery finely diced
1 - carrot finely diced
1 - small onion finely diced
1 - 15 fl oz can of Cannelinni Beans drained and rinsed
1/2 pound - dry Ditalini pasta

1 - large stock pot
1 - med soup pot
1 - strainer
knife, cutting board, etc...

  • The first thing you need to do is make a decision, do you want to eat soup, or a thick pasta dish. If soup is what you are looking for, you should start by cooking the Ditalini according to the directions on the package and keep it separate. If you want a thick pasta dish, you can just add the pasta to the soup while it is cooking.
  • Put your celery, carrots, onions and oil in the large pot over medium high heat. Saute until the onions and celery become translucent and the carrots soften.
  • Add the beans, stock and sauce and turn the heat up to high.
  • Stir regularly until the pot boils.
  • If you are looking for soup (and already cooked your pasta) you are done. Just add the pasta to the pot and serve.
  • If you are looking for a thicker pasta dish (and haven't cooked your pasta yet) add the raw pasta to the pot. Continue stirring regularly until the pasta is cooked through. This will soak up a lot of your broth and make a thicker stew like pasta dish.

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