From September 2006 to September 2009, I wrote a weekday column called Culinary Chronicles for Joe Barkson’s World Wide Recipes newsletter. I enjoyed it very much, mostly because it encouraged me to learn more about foods I knew and discover foods I didn’t know. Here is the column I wrote on February 12, 2008, followed by the recipe for the version I made for World on the Square this past Saturday.
This is my new food for this month. I don’t know why I suddenly got a craving for a dish I’d never eaten before, but I did. I’d heard about pasta fazool in my youth, from a couple of “novelty” popular songs and probably from Chico Marx, but I had never, to my knowledge, eaten it. I found out it’s one of those foods that originated as a peasant dish, and so has no absolute recipe. “Pasta fazool” is a corruption — or possibly a legitimate variant pronunciation — of pasta e fagioli: pasta and beans. Pasta fazool always contains some kind of small pasta (macaroni or, in a pinch, broken spaghetti) and beans, usually small white ones like cannellini or, because I didn’t have cannellini and I did have navy beans, navy beans. It also has olive oil, garlic, onion and spices. It might or might not have tomatoes or tomato sauce in it. It might be a brothy soup, or it might not be soup at all. Mine wasn’t soup, but I’ll bet a soupy version would be good.
The version I made for World on the Square was soupy and it was good. No amounts are given, because you do it as you like it.
PASTA FAZOOL–SOUPY VERSION
- Olive oil
- Small pasta, uncooked. I used campanelle, because it’s pretty.
- Diced canned or fresh tomatoes. I used canned with garlic, basil and oregano.
- Canned tomato sauce
- Cannellini or other white beans
- Chicken or vegetable broth
Heat olive oil. Cook garlic in oil until garlic just begins to turn golden. Remove and discard. Put onion, carrot and celery in blender and grate. Add to tomatoes, tomato sauce, flavored oil and broth. Add beans and bring to boil. Add pasta and reduce to simmer, stirring to keep everything circulating. Cook according to pasta package’s directions. Even better chilled and reheated.
WRITING PROMPT: Have a character cook or order a dish he or she has only heard the name of.