Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pasta Fagioli

Ok, I will say this at the beginning. This first blurb is not about food. If you just want the recipe, skip to the bottom.

Pasta Fagioli (I wish I could insert a phonetics guide for "Fagioli" but I am not sure how to emulate that sound with letters)

This dish is terribly nostalgic for me.(Insert jokes about me being my father's daughter here) Whenever I think about Pasta Fagioli, I always think of my great-grandmother. The crazy thing about it is, I really only my met my great-granmother once that I actually remember and she didn't even make Pasta Fagioli that visit. Lucky for me, my Dad is a master of the lost art of Oral Tradition. So here is a tidbit about Gramma Tessa's story.

My great-grandmother, Antoinetta Menadio, was actually born in America to Italian parents. When Gramma was very young, they moved back to Italy, where she grew up. Well, as frequently happened around the turn of the 20th century, the village where Gramma grew up received a letter from one of the young men from their town who was living and working in America. Apparently this young man (Grampa Menadio and yes, they had the same last name before they were married) had been married and had a young daughter and sadly his wife had passed away. He found himself in a bind with having no one to care for his daughter and his work visa was going to expire. He needed to marry someone who was hopefully an American citizen and it would be nice if she was from his hometown. Gramma, being one to seize an opportunity and an American citizen, said she would go. So she came back to America and married Grampa. Now Grampa Menadio was a railway worker and they didn't have a lot of money. Pasta Fagioli is a poor man's meal and they ate it alot because of it's simple and inexpensive ingredients. I think this is why I think of her. Sadly, Grampa Menadio was killed in a work related accident(if I am not mistaken). So, Gramma remarried another Italian man: Grampa Gambatessa (Hints: Gramma Tessa... no little kid could say all that). My Gramma was a very independent woman who loved to cook, loved her family, and never missed Church even when it was mid winter in Cleveland. Up until only a short time before her death, she lived by herself in an old Italian neighborhood. Most of these stories are because I have been told by my Father but here is what I remember.

The one visit that I remember to her house, my fondest memory was of her kitchen. It was very small but everyone crammed around her tiny linoleum table while she cooked. You couldn't escape without eating. Even if you told her you had just eaten, she would put her hand on your "pancia" and command "Eat, eat!" I think this was my first encounter with Calamari and she made the best homemade tomato sauce. We ate and ate and ate.

Enough nostalgia... here are the goods ;) Courtesy of

Pasta Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 5 large bowls • Serving Size: about 2 cups • Old Points: 5 pts • Points+: 6 pts
Calories: 254.5 • Fat: 3.4 g • Protein: 10.3 g • Carb: 47.5 g • Fiber: 6.8 g
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 15 oz can cannellini beans
15 oz can tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 large bay leaf
1 tbsp basil
1 tbsp parsley
1 tsp oregano
2 (14 oz each) cans fat free chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarians)
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
1-1/2 cups (6 oz) dry Ditalini pasta or other small pasta
Grated Parmigiano or Romano (optional)
In a deep pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat.

Blend the can of beans with one can water in electric blender until almost smooth.

Add blended beans to pan then add the can of tomato sauce, celery, carrots, chicken broth, basil, bay leaf, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Add 1 cup water and bring to slow boil. Let simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add pasta and cook uncovered until pasta is al dente, according to pasta directions.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with grated cheese (extra pts).

I am not sure how authentic it is, but this recipe is very good and brings back good memories.

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